AKA: Disaster Monitoring Constellation. Status: Operational 2008. Gross mass: 700 kg (1,540 lb).
In November 1998 Xu Fuxiang, president of the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) said that China planned to establish a small satellite environmental monitoring and disaster warning network. The constellation of eight advanced satellites, including four 400 kg optical satellites and four 700 kg radar satellites, would orbit in two planes to provide round-the-clock monitoring.
The satellites would each have a three year design life. This constellation would be separate from planned satellite networks for navigation, global positioning, mobile telecommunications and earth observations. The Tsinghua-1 50-kg microsat was the first demonstrator for the constellation. The draft project was reviewed in July 2000 by Chinese government committees and the China Space Science and Technology Corporation. In June 2001 the China National Space Administration announced a search for possible international collaborators in the project. This could take the form for international partners to provide small satellites, instruments, or cash investment.
A prototype of a satellite based Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) was exhibited in February 2001. The radar had been jointly developed by Institutes 501 and 504 of CASC and the China Academy of Sciences under Program 863, a high-tech development program started in March 1986.