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China to Launch Its First Satellite for a U.S. Firm

January 29, 1987|United Press International

PEKING — China signed its first contract Wednesday to launch an American satellite, which originally was intended for launching by a space shuttle.

The move is a direct result of the shuttle Challenger explosion on Jan. 28, 1986, and is a sign of increasing foreign competition to provide access to space, officials said.

The contract with Teresat Inc. of New York is the first between a foreign firm and China's satellite-launching service, which began offering its services to the international market in 1985, the official New China News Agency said.

The agency did not say how much Teresat agreed to pay, but Western diplomats believe China is asking between $4 million and $8 million for a launching.

Launching Set for 1988

The contract calls for Teresat's Westar-VIS satellite to be launched into orbit aboard a Chinese-made rocket in the first half of 1988 from the remote Xichang Space Center in central Sichuan province.

Peking says at least 30 foreign companies have expressed interest in the Chinese program, which advertises launching and insurance rates up to 15% less than its foreign competitors.

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