Following a number of rumors about a possible military launch from Jiuquan, China has launched a new remote sensing satellite, the Yaogan-II. The launch marked the 100th successful orbital launch for China.
The launch took place at 08:12 GMT on Friday, using a CZ-2D Chang Zheng-2D (CZ2D-8). The first Yaogan satellite was launched from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on 27th April 2006.
Having also the designation Jian Bing-5, this satellite series – designed and built by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) – are the first Chinese ‘synthetic aperture radar’ satellites.
According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, Yaogan-II will be used ‘for scientific research, land resources surveying, crop yield estimate and disaster forecast.’
Going along the ride with Yaogan-II there was a pico-satellite weighing 1 kg that was developed by the Zheijiang University. This small satellite is going to make micro-electronics research in orbit.
This was 99th flight for the Chang Zheng (Long March) series of rockets.
The launch of Yaogan-II comes a day after Chinese Space Agency chief Sun Laiyanon signed the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters,’ enrolling China in the international global disaster relief regime.
This charter was initiated by ESA and CNES after the July 1999 UNISPACE III conference in Vienna, Austria, and also groups agencies from Great Britain, Canada, India, Japan and the United States.
The objective is to have a network of satellites providing a unified system of space data acquisition and delivery to the areas affected by natural or man-made disasters. This network is being used since 2000.
This was the 5th Chinese launch in 2007 and comes a few days before the launch of SinoSat-3 that will replace the failed SinoSat-2 launched last October.