(ECNS) – China has more than 110 artificial satellites in orbit around the Earth, and is pushing ahead with a program to build a space-based "Silk Road," said an official with the China International Satellite Service Association (CISSA) on Wednesday.
The 110 satellites include communications satellites, remote sensing satellites and navigation satellites, and the first two types of satellites have achieved global coverage, said Wang Zhongguo, executive vice president of the CISSA, during an interview with China News Service.
On Monday night, China launched the 17th satellite of its Beidou Navigation Satellite System, marking the first step in its plan to expand the system's regional service into global coverage.
Earlier media reports said China plans to launch another 120 satellites -- about 20 communications satellites, 70 remote sensing satellites and 30 navigation satellites. The number of Chinese satellites in orbit will overtake Russia in 2015 to rank second in the world.
The CISSA, made up of enterprises, institutions and scholars in the aerospace field, was set up in 2014, with the aim of helping expand Chinese satellite service to the world.
Based on the China-proposed Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Road and Belt) initiatives, the CISSA plans to build a space-based "Silk Road" to provide better services to the Road and Belt region.
Wang said the new system will be made up of an extensive communications satellite network, several virtual remote sensing satellite constellations, and ground facilities. China will also promote the system's connection and interaction with the world's major navigation systems, and seek cooperation with them on building space-based and ground-based navigation augmentation systems, he adds.
Upon completion, the system will be capable of offering more accurate and qualified satellite navigation services to the Road and Belt region, as well as conducting stable long-term comprehensive monitoring of the land, ocean, air and environment in the region.
Wang said technology is not a problem in building the space-based "Silk Road," and that the key is knowing the needs of countries and regions along the Road and Belt. So far, his association has developed relationships with Malaysia and Indonesia regarding satellite and ground station cooperation projects.