Lockheed to use Long March
GEOFFREY CROTHALL in Beijing
Despite the spectacular failure of China's new generation Long March 3B satellite launch vehicle in February, US aero-space giant Lockheed Martin still plans to use it to launch its ChinaStar 1 satellite in the second half of next year.
'We have the normal concerns but are confident the launch will be successful,' the president of Lockheed Martin, North Asia, Robert Young, said.
'The Long March programme as a whole has been pretty successful and we have established a good working relationship with China Great Wall [the mainland's satellite launch company],' Mr Young said.
Two Lockheed Martin satellites were launched successfully using Long March 2E rockets in November and December.
Mr Young said it was not unusual for new launch vehicles to fail on their first or second launch and predicted China would continue to win customers for its launch programme.
'At the moment, demand for satellite launches exceeds supply so anyone who can offer reasonable costs and a good schedule will be successful,' he said.
'China has the additional advantage of having domestic customers to fill in the gaps between international launches,' he said.
As yet, it is unknown how far insurance premiums will increase as a result of the February disaster but Mr Young was confident China still would be able to offer competitive pricing.
The investigation into the cause of February's failure should end next month.
Mr Young, who was in Beijing yesterday for the opening of Lockheed Martin's representative office, said the company planned to consolidate and expand its business interests throughout China.
In addition to satellites, it has an aircraft maintenance joint venture in Guangzhou and hopes to become involved in airport development, airport management and air traffic control systems.
Mr Young said the ambitious air infrastructure development projects in China's Ninth Five-Year Plan would expand opportunites.