The originally scheduled launch during the 2003 solar maximum did not occur.
In October 1998 China announced plans to build the world's first global ground-based meridian circle to forecast solar conditions for satellite launches, manned space shuttles, airplanes, and ship navigation. The meridian circle would monitor sun and geomagnetic storms as well as electromagnetic radiation.
As part of a future space development strategy, China would first build a chain of ground stations along 120 degrees east longitude. Later the global meridian circle would be completed with monitoring stations along 60 degrees west longitude built by the US and Canada. As part of this system, China planned to send the world's most advanced solar space telescope into orbit by 2003. Shao Liqin, a senior official with the Ministry of Science and Technology, said the central government had approved the "meridian chain project" and had promised 180 million yuan (US$21.7 million) of financing.
The SST spacecraft would consist of an optical diffraction-limited telescope with a 1 m diameter mirror, 2-D real time polarizing spectrograph, and four small attached telescopes for soft X-ray, full-disk H-alpha imaging and wide-band spectrometry. The 2.0 metric ton spacecraft would generate an effective electric power of 1000 W and operate in a sun-synchronous 800 km orbit. Design life was 3-5 years and planned launch date 2003 (solar maximum). The SST was proposed by Ai Guoxiang, Director of the Beijing Astronomical Observatory. The CZ-2F launch vehicle would be used. To develop the instruments for SST both balloon-borne and ground-mobile solar telescopes were used.
Gross mass: 2,000 kg (4,400 lb).