China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General (CLTC)

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Last Updated: January 31, 2013
Other Name: China Launch and Tracking Control; 中国卫星发射测控系统部; China Satellite Launch and TT&C General (TT&C: Tracking, Telemetry, and Control); China Satellite Launch and Telemetry, Tracking and Control General Company; National Space & Missile Tracking Command Center
Location: Headquarters at Beijing[2]
Subordinate To: PLA General Armaments Department (GAD)[3]
Size: Three launch centers, three research institutes and one control center[4]
Facility Status: Active

The China Satellite Launch and Tracking Control General (CLTC) is dedicated to telemetry, tracking, and command of Chinese space missions. Specifically, the CLTC affords control services for satellite launches, as well as rocket, satellite, and spacecraft tracking. It develops and manufactures satellite control components, monitoring equipment, and launch site structures. The organization directly controls and oversees all of China’s space missions, space launch centers; and telemetry, tracking, and command arrays.[5]

Additionally, the CLTC provides services for many different nations and works as one of China’s primary channels for reaching out to the international space market. From 1970 to 2012, the CLTC assisted in the launch of over 157 carrier rockets in the Long March (Chang Zheng) series.[6]

CLTC was established in 1986.[7] It was initially established as a command and control center for the space-related operations of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA). The CLTC consists of planning and development departments, liaison and logistics departments, as well as a department dedicated to the primary task of telemetry, tracking, and control. The organization is headquartered in Beijing.[8]

The director of the CLTC is also the head of the PLA General Armaments Department’s (GAD) Chiefs of Staff.[9] In addition, it is likely that the organization works directly with the Chinese armed forces by providing warnings and notifications of incoming and passing rockets and spacecraft.[10]

The CLTC integrates its network of telemetry, tracking, and command with many of its international customers’ arrays.[11] In 2011, this led to concern in Australia over the Mingenew telemetry, tracking, and command array, because CLTC is directly connected with China’s military.[12] The PLA has sought to divorce the CLTC from military operations as an independent organization in the past, but these measures have yet to materialize.[13]

Over the last 10 years, CLTC received substantial investment, development, and expansion from both domestic military and satellite agencies to an international conglomerate with applications ranging from satellites to manned space flight.[14] The organization will likely continue to invest in its Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) systems and its ground and sea based telemetry, tracking and control arrays in the future.[15]

CLTC is scheduled to receive funds for continued research and industrial expansion and to advance general tracking, telemetry, and control systems both on land and in space. This includes plans to expand CLTC capacities to deep space applications. Specific ground-based improvements to the CLTC tracking, telemetry, and control system are also planned in order to consolidate and expand China’s Beidou global satellite navigation network.[16]

CLTC has multiple subsidiaries, including:[17]

Sources:
[1] “Partners,” China Great Wall Industry Corporation, 2009, www.cgwic.com.
[2] Mark A. Stokes, “The People’s Liberation Army and China’s Space and Missile Development: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future,” in Laurie Burkitt, Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel, eds., The Lessons of History: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army at 75, Strategic Studies Institute, July 2003. 
[3] Mark A Stokes and Dean Cheng, “China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests,” Project 2049 Institute, 26 April 2012.
[4] “Partners,” China Great Wall Industry Corporation, 2009, www.cgwic.com; Mark A Stokes and Dean Cheng, “China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests,” Project 2049 Institute, 26 April 2012.
[5] “Launch Services [发射服务管理],” China Great Wall Industry Corporation, 2009, www.cgwic.com.
[6] China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) Vice President Fu Zhiheng, “Chinese Launchers & ComSats: Development & Commercial Activities,” presentation for the World Space Risk Forum 2012, Dubai, World Space Risk Forum, 28 February 2012, www.worldspaceriskforum.com.
[7] “Partners,” China Great Wall Industry Corporation, 2009, www.cgwic.com.
[8] Mark A. Stokes, “The People’s Liberation Army and China’s Space and Missile Development: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future,” in Laurie Burkitt, Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel, eds., The Lessons of History: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army at 75, Strategic Studies Institute, July 2003.
[9] Mark A Stokes and Dean Cheng, “China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests,” Project 2049 Institute, 26 April 2012.
[10] Mark A. Stokes, “The People’s Liberation Army and China’s Space and Missile Development: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future,” in Laurie Burkitt, Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel, eds., The Lessons of History: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army at 75, Strategic Studies Institute, July 2003.
[11] “Partners,” China Great Wall Industry Corporation, 2009, www.cgwic.com.
[12] Cameron Stewart, “Chinese Military ‘Using WA Station’ Exclusive,” Local, The Australian, 16 November 2011, p. 1.
[13] Mark A. Stokes, “China’s Strategic Modernization: Implications for the United States,” report distributed by the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College, September 1999, www.strategic studiesinstitute.army.mil.
[14] Mark A. Stokes, “The People’s Liberation Army and China’s Space and Missile Development: Lessons from the Past and Prospects for the Future,” in Laurie Burkitt, Andrew Scobell and Larry M. Wortzel, eds., The Lessons of History: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army at 75, Strategic Studies Institute, July 2003.
[15] Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, “II. Progress Made Since 2006,” China’s Space Activities in 2011, 29 December 2011, www.china.org.cn.
[16] Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China,“III. Major Tasks for the Next Five Years,” China’s Space Activities in 2011, 29 December 2011, www.china.org.cn.
[17] “Partners,” China Great Wall Industry Corporation, 2009, www.cgwic.com; Mark A Stokes and Dean Cheng, “China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests,” Project 2049 Institute, 26 April 2012.

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