Delta II launches with GeoEye 1 – Chinese launch two birds

by Chris Bergin

United Launch Alliance (ULA) have launched a Delta II carrying the next-generation, sub half-meter Earth-imaging satellite, GeoEye-1. Lift-off was at 11:50am PDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Launch video available below.

Meanwhile, China launched its first disaster monitoring satellites at 03:25UTC, Saturday – via a CZ-2C Chang Zheng-2C/SMA launch vehicle from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

**Delta II/Geoeye-1 – Live Update Pages**

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Delta II/Geoeye-1 Preview:

GeoEye-1 will be lifted into a near-polar orbit by a 12-story-tall Delta II 7420-10 configuration launch vehicle.

The Delta II upper stage is expected to deploy the GeoEye-1 spacecraft approximately 58 minutes after lift-off and the Company expects to establish first contact about 90 minutes after launch. The launch window will only be open for 84 seconds.

GeoEye-1, designed and built by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, is the world’s highest resolution commercial imaging satellite.

Designed to take color images of the Earth from 423 miles (681 kilometers) in space and moving at a speed of about four-and-a-half miles (seven kilometers) per second, the satellite will make 15 earth orbits per day and collect imagery with its ITT-built imaging system that can distinguish objects on the Earth’s surface as small as 0.41-meters (16 inches) in size in the panchromatic (black and white) mode.

The 4,300-pound satellite will also be able to collect multispectral or color imagery at 1.65-meter ground resolution.

The satellite will be able to see an object the size of home plate on a baseball diamond but also map the location of an object that size to within about nine feet (three meters) of its true location on the surface of the Earth without need for ground control points.

Together, GeoEye’s IKONOS and GeoEye-1 satellites can collect almost one million square kilometers of imagery per day.

First natural disaster monitoring satellites launched by China

HJ-1A Huan Jing-1A and HJ-1B Huan Jing-1B (Huan Jing means Environment) are the first two satellites of a small constellation for environmental and disaster monitoring and prediction, which China plans to launch in the next six years.

Data can be obtained in all weather conditions and over a large area. Apart from the disaster alerts, the satellites will have an important role in evaluating and analyzing the environmental damage.

China plans to launch six small optical satellites and five small SAR satellites to form the constellation. The first phase of the project sees the launch of this two optical satellites and the first SAR satellite – HJ-1C Huan Jing-1C is planned for next May.

The data provided by the satellites will also help to uncover false reports and to provide appropriate relief. Re-building disaster affected areas and the relocation of victims will also be made easier, as the new system can help design better plans in advance.

Natural disasters, including typhoons, floods, droughts and earthquakes, claimed many lives in China over recent years and forced millions of people to move, incurring in billions of yuans of losses. Also, the number of accidents caused by environmental problems have increased by 30 percent annually, with China reporting 161 pollution accidents in 2006.

In May 2007, the China national Space Administration became the member of the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’, a joint initiative that works to provide emergency response satellite data free of charge to those affected by disasters anywhere in the world.

Each member of the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’ has demonstrated its commitment to use its space assets when it most needed, when disasters of natural and human origin strike the world’s communities, or wreak havoc on the environment.

On board the satellites, based on the CAST968B bus, will be a CCD imaging system, hyperspectral camera (HJ-1A) and infrared camera (HJ-1B). The new two satellites, with a weight of 470 kg, will observe the Earth surface in visible light and also in infrared both in high resolution (3 meter to 100 meter) and with observational footprints of 720 km.

The satellites will be located in the same orbital plane of 97, 95 degrees at 650 km altitude, covering all Chinese territory in 48 hours. Both satellites were developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and the Chinese Academy of Science participated in the development of the payload.

The first Huan Jing-1 satellites were launched by a CZ-2C Chang Zheng-2C/SMA launch vehicle. The CZ-2C is a two stage launch vehicle capable of launching a 2500 kg payload to a 200 km, 52 degree orbit. Both stages use hypergolic (nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine).

The first launch of a Chang Zheng-2C took place on November 26, 1975. This launcher can be equipped with two upper stages: the SMA for SSO or the SM for HEO or GTO.

Situated in the Kelan County on the northwest part of the Shanxi Province, the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center is mainly used for polar launches (meteorological, Earth resources and scientific satellites).

The launch center is equipped with a Mission Command and Control Center, a Technical Center and telemetry, tracking and communications centers. There is a launch complex in Taiyuan and recent news of the construction of a second launch complex.

Re-live the launch updates on the live event pages, linked above.

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