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China, Hughes Study Satellite Deal : Peking's Rockets Would Be Used for Hawaii Launchings

June 16, 1986|JIM MANN | Times Staff Writer

PEKING — China disclosed Sunday that Hughes Aircraft Co. is considering a long-term agreement under which Chinese rocket carriers and technology would be used to launch American civilian satellites from Hawaii.

According to Chinese news agencies, Hughes Vice President Paul S. Visher recently suggested the arrangement to the China Great Wall Industry Corp., a state-owned satellite-launching venture, which is part of the Ministry of Aeronautics.

"The suggestion has received positive response from the Chinese side, and negotiations on related substantial questions between both sides are expected to be held soon," Beijing Review, an official weekly magazine, said. The magazine noted that Hughes is a major U.S. builder of space satellites.

(In a statement issued in Los Angeles, Donald H. White, president of Hughes Aircraft, said: "Our people are exploring many possibilities and to discuss them further would be purely speculative. There has been no proposal by anyone with any authority at Hughes Aircraft concerning this issue.").

Meanwhile, another American firm, Teresat Inc., announced Sunday that it has signed an agreement for China Great Wall Industry to launch two U.S. satellites from inside China, one in late 1987 and another in early 1988.

18 Satellites Launched

Wu Keli, deputy general manager and senior engineer of China Great Wall Industry, said that China has launched 18 satellites with its Long March rockets and has had only one failure. Another Chinese scientist said recently that China has had two launching failures, one in 1974 and the other a decade later.

For China, the possibility of joint satellite-launching ventures with U.S. firms offers a chance to earn foreign currency, now sorely needed for the nation's modernization program. For U.S. firms, such ventures would offer a chance to get satellites into orbit at a time when recent failures have held up the U.S. and European space programs.

In the Beijing Review article, Wu denied that China has been trying to take advantage of the American and European launching failures. "This is sheer coincidence," he said. "China has no intention of competing with Western countries in this field."

The report of China's discussions with Hughes were included in a list of recent international efforts by the Chinese satellite-launching firm. The possible launch site was listed only as "a Hawaiian island." No other details of the talks were made public.

Letter Signed in May

Teresat, a New York-based company, had signed a letter of intent in May to have two satellites launched with Chinese rockets. Sunday's news release said that the two companies have now signed a formal satellite launch reservation agreement.

Henry Schwartz, Teresat's chairman, said that he and the heads of two companies that are Teresat shareholders were "impressed with the overall launcher design and launch capability and technology of the Chinese satellite-launch facilities."

The Teresat officials said they believe that China will "play a major role in the world market for satellite launch and support services."

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