Chinasat was established under the Ministry of Radio, Film and Television in 1983 to provide satellite-based TV services to rural China. Over time, increasing responsibilities for network adminstration and construction of earth stations led ChinaSat to shift ministerial sponsorship to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications [MPT].
To help offset the loss of DFH-2 4 and the delay in the DFH-3 program, China in late 1992 purchased the nearly 9-year-old Spacenet 1 (May, 1984) from GTE. In 1993 the spacecraft, renamed Zhongxing 5 (aka Chinasat 5), was moved to 115.5 degrees E. The spacecraft's payload consists of 18 C-band and six Ku-band transponders. Subsequently, China and INTELSAT reached an agreement on joint ownership of Zhongxing 5 and the to-be-launched INTELSAT 805 (References 244-251).
ChinaSat was essentially an advisory group prior to 1993 when China acquired ChinaSat-5. As the Peoples Liberation Army was by then precluded from engaging in commercial activity, MPT was responsbiel for the purchase of China's first civilian satellite, and ChinaSat became China's first commercial satellite operator. Following economic reforms that separated telecommunications services from regulation, ChinaSat became a subsidiary of China Telecom, the largest national communications service provider.
Following the unsuccessful launch of DFH-3A in 1994, ChinaSat has replaced the military as the operator of DFHs for commercial applications. ChinaSat-6 [DFH-3B], which was launched in 1997 has experienced attitude stabilisation problems which have led to excessive fuel consumption reducing its life expectancy.
ChinaSat-7, a Hughes HS 376 launched on 18 August 1996 by a LM-3 rocket, failed to to reach its intended orbit due to a failure of the thirds stage of the launch vehicle, which ceased operation 48 seconds ahead of schedule during the second phase of its flight. The launch was conducted under a contract signed on 08 April 1996 between Hughes Space and Communications Company and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation. Following ChinaSat-7's launch failure, ChinaSat purchased a second in-orbit satellite (Spacenet-2) in 1997 and renamed it ChinaSat-5R. In March 1997 Space Systems/Loral finalized a $100 million contract to build the Chinasat 8, to provide voice, video and data services throughout China.ChinaSat operates DFH-3B and ChinaSat-5R, and expects ChinaSat-8 to be launched later in 1998. The system also includes and extensive network of international gateways, VSAT networks, and ancillary facilities, including TT&C stations and training center. ChinaSa operates one of the world's largest domestic satellite networks, with 36 Intelsat standard stations in operation or under construction.
ChinaSat will be the sole distributor of Space Systems/Loral's Globalstar services in China, integrating the Globalstar system with China's existing telephone infrastructure. The first of Chinasat's four planned Globalstar ground station gateways, situated outside of Beijing, is to be operational at Globalstar's launch in China in 1998. Other gateways will be subsequently be added in Guangzhou, Lanzhou and Shanghai.
In January 1997 TRW's Odyssey, a satellite-based personal communications system, entered into a memorandum of understanding giving ChinaSat exclusive rights to distribute Odyssey satellite-based cellular phone, fax and data services in the People's Republic of China.