The country's scientists were testing eight pieces of equipment - five from the European Space Agency (ESA) - to be flown on the first of the two Chinese satellites in December, said Liu Zhenxing, chief scientist of China's Double Star Program.

  

It will be the first time European equipment is integrated with Chinese satellites.

 

The launch of an "equatorial" satellite in December will be followed by a polar-range satellite in June - both aboard Chinese Long March 2C rockets, said Liu, also a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

 

Glitches

  

The two satellites comprise the Double Star Program - a Chinese initiative to observe the Earth's geospace storms which exploration satellites from other countries have failed to cover.

  

According to Liu, geospace storms, including magnetic storms, sub storms and storms of high energy particles, have been responsible for 40% of the 6000 glitches in the world's satellite operations recorded so far.