China Launches Environmental Monitoring Satellites

 In China, Space, Environment, P5

A Long March 4B rocket lifts off Sunday with two Chinese environmental monitoring satellites. Credit: Xinhua

Without any public warn­ing, a Chinese Long March 4B rocket lifted off Sunday with two “envi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing satel­lites” that the country’s state media said will replace a pair of space­craft launched in 2008 that col­lect­ed data to assist in a series of dis­as­ter relief efforts over the last decade.

The twin Huanjing envi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing satel­lites took off at 0323 GMT Sunday (11:23 p.m. EDT Saturday) from the Taiyuan launch base in Shanxi province in north­ern China, accord­ing to the gov­ern­ment-run Xinhua news agency.

A three-stage, liquid-fueled Long March 4B rocket car­ried the Huanjing 2A and 2B satel­lites into space. U.S. mil­i­tary track­ing data indi­cat­ed the two space­craft reached an orbit rang­ing between 371 miles (600 kilo­me­ters) and 404 miles (651 kilo­me­ters) above Earth, with an incli­na­tion of 98 degrees to the equa­tor.

Xinhua said the launch was suc­cess­ful.

Chinese author­i­ties did not pub­li­cize the launch in advance, and issued no warn­ing notices for pilots to keep clear of down­range drop zones for the Long March 4B rocket’s lower stages and pay­load fair­ing.

The Huanjing 2A and 2B satel­lites replace China’s Huanjing 1A and 1B space­craft that launched in 2008, offi­cials said. The satel­lites “pro­vide ser­vices con­cern­ing envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion, nat­ur­al resources, water con­ser­van­cy, agri­cul­ture and forestry,” Xinhua said.

Huanjing means “envi­ron­ment” in Chinese.

The satel­lites launched Sunday carry opti­cal imagers to pro­vide medium-res­o­lu­tion color images. The satel­lites will also col­lect infrared and hyper­spec­tral images, which con­tain infor­ma­tion to help ana­lysts dis­tin­guish between dif­fer­ent types of fea­tures on Earth, such as veg­e­ta­tion, human-made infra­struc­ture, and water qual­i­ty.

Xinhua said the Huanjing 1A and 1B satel­lites col­lect­ed remote sens­ing data to assist dis­as­ter response efforts in China, includ­ing major earth­quakes and mud­slides in 2008 and 2010.

The suc­cess­ful launch Sunday marked the 29th orbital launch attempt by China so far this year.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Spaceflight Now source|articles

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