Since 1986 PRC and Brazil have been developing, based on Chinese research with the Shi Jian 3 project, a joint Earth observation spacecraft, commonly referred to as CBERS (China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite) but also known in PRC as Zi Yuan (Earth Resources). PRC is contributing approximately 70% of the program costs for two spacecraft, initially scheduled for launch in 1996 and 1998-1999, respectively. The 1,450-kg spacecraft will have overall dimensions of 2 m by 3.3 m by 8.3 m with a 1.1 kW capacity, single solar array and will operate in an 800-km sun-synchronous orbit with a 26-day repeating groundtrack pattern.
The Earth observation payload will include three primary sensors (the first two of Chinese origin):
Zi Yuan will also carry a Data Collection System and a Space Environment Monitor (Reference 632).