May 27, 2011

Venezuela, China Team Up For Satellite Launch

China and Venezuela are planning to develop an observation satellite that will be constructed in Asia and launched in South America in October 2012, according to Venezuela's science and technology ministry.

The earth-observation satellite will cost around $140 million and will monitor troop movements and illegal mining, and will also study the planet's environment and its climate changes, according to the ministry.

"We will have a satellite with the ability to monitor our territory 24 hours a day," Ricardo Menendez, spokesman for the ministry, told AFP at the unveiling of the project. "The Venezuelan state will monitor the development and impact of natural phenomena such as earthquakes, floods and heavy rainfall."

The contract was signed by state-run China Great Wall Industry Corporation and the Venezuelan ministry.

The project follows Venezuela's first-ever launch of its Simon Bolivar satellite four years earlier, which was also built with Chinese support.

Menendez said their second satellite "will be made available to other countries in Latin America" just like the first one.

China and Venezuela have formed close economic ties in recent years. Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, has sought to reduce its dependence on the USA.

China has invested heavily in Venezuela's oil, gas and mining sectors and has sold fighter jets to the Latin country as well in recent years.