Over the past 40 years, China has attained remarkable achievements in the development of earth observation remote sensing satellite technology. At present, the country has established three main satellite systems, including terrestrial, meteorological, and marine systems, which have been widely used in numerous applications, such as natural resource investigation, marine environmental protection, weather disaster prediction, and other major national projects. This study reviews the development history of the three major satellite systems, analyzes the development status and inherent characteristics of China’s Earth observation remote sensing satellites, and implements the CiteSpace software to summarize the research hotspot literature for all in-orbit remote sensing satellites. The terrestrial remote sensing satellite system has developed rapidly, especially in terms of small commercial satellites. Terrestrial remote sensing satellites comprise four series, including the ZiYuan, GaoFen, HuanJing/ShiJian, and other small satellites. Satellite sensors are rich, and their high spatiotemporal resolution can reach up to 0.5 m. However, they can encounter typical problems, such as uneven development, close-proximity orbital heights, and overlapping spectral ranges in similar sensors. The development of the meteorological remote sensing satellite system is the most mature among the three satellite systems. Two series of polar orbiting and stationary satellites can well detect most atmospheric elements. However, meteorological satellites are few, the spatiotemporal resolution of their sensors is relatively low, and current sensors cannot finely detect certain critical elements, such as the atmospheric wind field. The marine remote sensing satellite system has likewise made significant progress. It consists of three major satellite patterns, namely, marine water color, marine dynamic environment, and marine surveillance and monitoring satellites, which can achieve large-scale simultaneous observation of Chinese marine environments. However, this system also consists of few marine satellites, limited sensor observation elements, and low satellite sensor spatiotemporal resolution. Moreover, hotspot literature analysis shows that the total number of studies on China’s Earth observation satellites is relatively small. The disproportional ratio of articles indexed by SCI and CNKI is serious, especially on the GaoFen and ZiYuan terrestrial satellites. Numerous studies on China’s Earth satellites focus on data processing, but the application aspect is relatively weak and uneven.Therefore, the future launching of terrestrial remote sensing satellites to develop new sensors, such as lidars, is suggested. Furthermore, different orbital heights as well as the complementarity of the spectral range of different sensors should be considered. The meteorological system should launch additional satellites to carry out networking observations, improve detection capabilities for all meteorological elements, and promote the spatiotemporal resolution of new sensors to meet the refined requirements of weather forecasting and disaster monitoring. The marine remote sensing satellite system should likewise launch more satellites and shorten the launching cycle of similar satellites, improve detection capabilities for marine elements, promote the spatiotemporal resolution of new sensors, and accelerate its transformation from scientific to business-oriented research. Finally, researchers should be encouraged to utilize domestic satellite data and explore relevant studies to promote the advanced techniques of China’s Earth observation satellites.