The Chinese have conducted another surprise launch, once again with a new satellite in the Yaogan Weixing series. Yaogan-23 was launched at 18:53 UTC on Friday, utilizing the Long March-2C (Chang Zheng-2C) rocket from the LC901 launch platform of the LC9 launch complex at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
As usual Chinese media is referring to the new satellite as ‘a new remote sensing bird that will be used for scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring.’
As was the case in the last launches of the Yaogan Weixing series, western analysts believe this class of satellites is used for military purposes.
This latest launch is believed to be of a satellite in the YG-6/13/18 series, a second generation SAR observation satellite operation on a typical 510×513 km x 97.3 degree orbit.
The satellites are built by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST).
This launch was the 210th Chinese orbital launch and the 198th successful one, being also the 198th launch of the Long March launch vehicle family.
It was also the 49th successful orbital launch from the Taiyuan Satellite launch Center, the 4th launch from this space center in 2014 and the 10th orbital launch for China this year.
Launch Vehicle and Launch Site:
The Chang Zheng 2C (Long March 2C) is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) launch vehicle derived from DF-5 ICBM.
It can be launched from either the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center or the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, with some launched also taking place from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
The launch vehicle has three configurations.
The basic two stage Long March-2C and the Long March-2C/SMA and the Long March-2C/SM, using upper stages.
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.
Situated in the Kelan County in the northwest part of the Shanxi Province, the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC) is also known by the Wuzhai designation. It is used mainly for polar launches (meteorological, Earth resources and scientific satellites).
The launch center has two single-pad launch complexes, a technical area for rocket and spacecraft preparations, a communications centre, a mission command and control centre, and a space tracking centre.
The stages of the rocket are transported to the launch centre by railway, and offloaded at a transit station south of the launch complex. They are then transported by road to the technical area for checkout procedures.
The launch vehicles are assembled on the launch pad by using a crane at the top of the umbilical tower to hoist each stage of the vehicle in place. Satellites are airlifted to the Taiyuan Wusu Airport about 300km away, and then transported to the centre by road.
The TT&C Centre, also known as Lüliang Command Post, is headquartered in the city of Taiyuan, It has four subordinate radar tracking stations in Yangqu (Shanxi), Lishi (Shanxi), Yulin (Shaanxi), and Hancheng (Shaanxi).