Chinese launch again with YaoGan Weixing-6 remote sensing satellite

by Rui C. Barbosa

China has launched the YG-6 YaoGan Weixing-6 remote sensing satellite via a CZ-2C (Chang Zheng-2C) launch vehicle. Launch occurred at 02:55 UTC from the Taiyuan Satellite launch Center.

According to Chinese media the new satellite is intended for “scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring.” However, western analysts believe this class of satellite are being used for reconnaissance purposes.

Analyzing previous launches in this series, its believed there are two versions of this spacecraft; a synthetic aperture radar imaging series and a electro-optical observation series.

The first YaoGan Weixing satellite (29092 2006-015A) was launched by a CZ-4C Chang Zheng-4C (CZ4C-1) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on April 27, 2006. At the time the details about this satellite were closely guarded, but later it was said that this was the first Jian Bing-5 satellite, equipped with the first space-based synthetic aperture radar (SAR).

The YaoGan Weixing-2 (31490 2007-019A) was launched on 25 May, 2007, by a CZ-2D Chang Zheng-2D (CZ2D-8) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Details were also restricted, though it is claimed that this spacecraft is an electro-optical military observation satellite, complementing the results of the YaoGan Weixing-1.

On November 12, 2007, the YaoGan Weixing-3 (32289 2007-055A) satellite was launched by a CZ-4C Chang Zheng-4C (CZ4C-2) launch vehicle from Taiyuan. This satellite was noted as the second Jian Bing-3 SAR satellite.

On December 1, 2008, YaoGan Weixing-4 (33446 2008-061A) – the second electro-optical satellite on the series – was launched by a CZ-2D Chang Zheng-2D from Jiuquan, and on December 15, 2008, YaoGan Weixing-5 (33456 2008-064A) was launched by a CZ-4B Chang Zheng-4B (CZ4B-12) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. It is believed this satellite was the third SAR bird.

This launch was the second orbital launch by China this year, the 118th Chinese orbital launch, the 28th orbital launch from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, and the first orbital launch from Taiyuan this year.

Situated in the Kelan County on the northwest part of the Shanxi Province, the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center is also known by the Wuzhai designation. It is used mainly 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 are two launch complex buildings in Taiyuan.

The CZ-2C Chang Zheng a low Earth orbit launch vehicle derived from DF-5 ICBM, and can be launched from either the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center or the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.

The rocket is a two stage hypergolic launch vehicle with a total length of 35.15 meters, a diameter of 3.35 meters and a total mass of 192,000 kg. The first stage is equipped with four YF-20A engines. Is has a length of 20.52 meters and a burn time of 122 seconds.

The second stage is equipped with one YF-22A engine, and has a length of 7.50 meters with a burn time of 130 seconds.

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