Space: October 13, 2001


China and Iran are developing the Small Multi-Mission Spacecraft, a spy satellite designed to provide smaller countries with their own spy satellites. Thailand is also involved in the program. Pakistan is working with China on a similar program thought not to be related to the SMMS. The SMMS will weigh 470 kilograms, and the first one will be placed into a 650 kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit in 2004 or 2005. The SMMS includes a charge-couple camera and a communications system. US intelligence is not particularly concerned with the low-order capabilities of the SMMS. The concern is that such a program will be continually expanded and improved. It will eventually become a problem if even smaller countries have their own spy satellites.--Stephen V Cole


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