Chief Designer of FY-2 Project Sun Jiadong: A Successful Ending of FY-2 Series

In China, there were two generations of geosynchronous orbit satellites within the family of meteorological satellites, namely FY-2 and FY-4. The satellite launched this time named FY-2H is the final one of the FY-2 series, which marks the official network integration of China’s first generation geostationary orbit meteorological satellites. What values and significance does FY-2H carry as the final satellite? Journalists from the China Central Television held an exclusive interview with Academician Sun Jiadong, chief designer of FY-2 project. As the the chief designer of this project, Academician Sun Jiadong has been in charge of this project since the launch of the first FY meteorological satellites in 1997.

Senior Technical Consultant of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and chief designer of FY-2 project Academician Sun Jiadong: “It was originally planned to launch nine FY-2 satellites. Put it in another way, FY-4 blasted off before the last satellite of FY-2 was sent off. This means that this last satellite (FY-2H) could cover our extra demand beyond the original plan by providing solutions for Asia-pacific regions when put in use. It can further solve the Belt and Road issue and provide service for people across the globe. It was under this purpose to improve efficiency and service range, FY-2H satellite adjusted its fixed injection position westward, moving from the originally planned 86.5 degrees east longitude to 79 east longitude. As a result, it could cover countries along the “Belt and Road”, countries that border the Indian Ocean and most African countries, providing these countries and regions with meteorological services from China. In that case, satellites of different countries became better dispersed in the world space. Regions such as the Middle East with sparse satellites can have more coverage. From the point of the globe, this is a task our nation should fulfill.”

FY-2: Thirties Years Service for National Economy

FY-2 series meteorological satellites have undergone over thirty years from the R&D kick off in 1986 to the last launch of H satellite. As the first generation geostationary orbit meteorological satellite, it has made outstanding contributions to the nation’s economy by providing services ranging from simple weather forecast to information of disaster prevention and relief in an effective and timely way.

The most basic application of meteorological satellites is the observation and prediction of extreme weather such as typhoons and heavy rains. For more than 30 years, through continuous improvement and optimization, and the orbit layout of “multi-satellite on-orbit and coordinated operation”, FY-2 can now realize intensified observations up to once every six minutes, and provide accurate forecast of the landing position and path of typhoons.

Academician Sun Jiadong: “Back to the days with no satellite, reports cannot be made until the typhoon almost hit the land. With the meteorological satellite, we can now report the development at least three days or five days in advance, or even earlier, which could play a very important role in preventing the ground economic losses caused by typhoon. With the increasing application demand for surface meteorological systems, FY-2 has begun to assume more roles. By performing the long-term high-point observations on relatively stationary orbits, the effect of gazing at the earth can be achieved. Furthermore, it can play a very critical role in disaster prevention and mitigation, and in responding to climate change.”

Academician Sun Jiadong: “You must develop and enhance knowledge constantly from the point of application. That is why we suggest that all sky-based meteorological information integrate with ground application and further extend to other areas.”

Future application technology satellites: multi-faceted multi-system integration

Academician Sun Jiadong not only participated in the development of the FY series of meteorological satellites, but also was responsible for the development of a number of communications satellites and application technology satellites such as BeiDou Navigation Satellites. In his eyes, the future will be an era dominated by a space-based system, an era in which communications and navigation services are provided to human beings based on spacecraft such as satellites in space. So, what kind of development trend will these application technology satellites have in the future?

Sun Jiadong said that satellite applications can be divided into three categories, including data transmission, information acquisition and information positioning. FY-2H launched this time is the information acquisition one. Correspondingly, resource satellites for terrestrial resources and marine satellites for marine systems are also classified as information acquisition satellites. In the future, these satellites of the same application type will gradually develop towards a comprehensive perspective.

Academician Sun Jiadong: “I believe changes will not stop in the future satellite development. Constant adjustment and combinations will be made in the space as the national economy continues to grow in the future. So will all sorts of integration to be made on the ground.”

In addition, Sun Jiadong also said that the technological enhancement and application value of the application technology satellites is driven by demand. Only when the ground users have more ideas and understandings will the satellites be used more widely. Therefore, the future will not only witness the integration of all sorts of satellites, but the comprehensive application between the satellite systems and ground systems as well.

Academician Sun Jiadong: “Because it is necessary to combine the ground-based information and space-based information and make full use of them to produce new effects. No matter it is a driverless car or a small plane, it will be inconvenient if you entirely rely on ground information to control. But the combination with space-based satellite will provide better control effects. Therefore, the future development of information is definitely an increasingly comprehensive application of space-based and ground-based information.”