China launches military satellite via new Long March vehicle

by Chris Bergin

The Chinese have launched a new remote sensing satellite – believed to be of a military nature – from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, located on the Shanxi Province, northern China.

The launch of the Yaogan-III satellite took place in the early hours of Monday local time (22:48 UTC Sunday night), separating from its CZ-4C Chang Zheng-4C (Long March) rocket – believed to be a new variant of the CZ-4B family – 13 minutes later.


L2 resources: Vehicle Manuals – in English – for Chang Zheng (Long March) 2E, Chang Zheng (Long March) 3A, Chang Zheng (Long March) 3B, and Chang Zheng (Long March) 3C launch vehicles. Over 750 pages.


According to the Xinhua news service, the new satellite, weighing 2700 kg, will be used for scientific research, land resources surveying, crop yield estimate and disaster prevention and relief. However, the satellite appears to have a military nature.

This is the second Jian Bing-5 satellite. The first JianBing-5 was launched on April 27th, 2006. These satellites are equipped with a SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) radar, capable of producing high-resolution imagery of the Earth’s surface in all-weather and in day and night conditions.

The SAR can measure both the intensity and phase of reflected microwave radiation, resulting not only in a high sensitivity to texture, but also via three-dimensional capabilities.

While conventional optical imagery intelligence systems are less effective in night and bad weather conditions, the SAR generates its own microwave radiation that can penetrate cloud, haze, shallow water, or even ground surface, to obtain high-resolution images of the Earth surface, as well as underwater and underground.

For the People’s Liberation Army, the SAR satellite imagery is vital in its ability to achieve information dominance in future warfare. Capable of seeing through clouds, rain, fog and dust in order to detect targets on the ground, underground or in the ocean, the SAR satellites are extremely useful in tracking moving targets, and can be useful for military mapping requirements.

This technology has been touted as been a wish of the Chinese, for a means to track enemy submarines in shallow waters.

The YaoGan-III was launched by a CZ-4C Chang Zheng-4C rocket – the first time there is any mention of this vehicle. The first YanGan satellite was launched by a CZ-4B/2 Chang Zheng-4B/2 (or Chang Zheng-4B Batch 02). It is believed this vehicle has a new upper second stage.

This was the 105th successful orbital launch for China, the 104th launch of the Chang Zheng (Long March) series of rockets, while also being the 23rd successful launch from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center – the third from Taiyuan this year, and the 10th – and probably last – Chinese launch of 2007.

On October 24, China launched its first lunar probe, Chang’e-1 – which will study our natural satellite during more than a year. Next year will be a major year for the Chinese space exploration.

Next year, China will launch its third manned mission, ShenZhou-7, that will achieve a major step for the country’s space exploration push, when two of its Yuhangyuans step outside to carry out the first Chinese spacewalk.

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