China has announced it will launch its first high resolution, stereoscopic mapping satellite for civilian use in the second half of 2011.
The announcement came within two months of the country’s successful launch of a navigation satellite, its fourth orbiter.
The mapping satellite is expected to "provide steady and reliable data sources for surveying and mapping on the scale of 1:50,000," the country’s State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping said.
The department said that the ZY-3 will be sent into space by the Long March-4B carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China.
ZY-3 will provide mapping for wide-ranging sectors such as disaster prevention and reduction, water conservancy, agriculture, environmental protection, urban planning, communications and national defence.
The bureau is also working with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation on the research and development of the next generation of satellites after the ZY-3.
Last week China launched the fifth in a series of 35 satellites that will eventually give the country its own GPS system. It currently relies on US satellites for GPS coverage.