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China launches rocket to deploy Earth-observation satellite
China launches a Long March 4C rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwestern China's Gobi Desert to deploy an Earth-observation radar satellite on Feb 27, 2022. [Photo by Zhuang Jiajing/For chinadaily.com.cn]
China launched a Long March 4C rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwestern China's Gobi Desert to deploy an Earth-observation radar satellite on Sunday morning, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the nation's leading space contractor.
The rocket blasted off at 7:44 am and soon placed the 3.2 metric ton Land Surveyor 1-01B satellite in a quasi-sun-synchronous orbit about 607 kilometers above the ground and will team up with its predecessor -- Land Surveyor 1-01A that was launched on Jan 26 – to use their L-band synthetic aperture radars to carry out round-the-clock, all-weather observation of ground areas, the State-owned conglomerate said in a statement.
Both the satellite and the rocket were built by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology. The launch marked the 408th flight of the Long March rocket family and the third space mission by China.
After their in-orbit tests, the two-satellite system will be tasked with providing data and images to land resources, disaster prevention and relief, mapping, and forestry authorities and will extensively strengthen the rapid response capability for major natural disasters, according to the space administration.
An artist's impression of Land Surveyor 1-01A and 1-01B satellites. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]
The satellites' major user, the Ministry of Natural Resources, said that China pays nearly 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) each year for data and images obtained by foreign synthetic aperture radar satellites and those foreign products are far from enough to meet the needs of the country's landform survey and disaster forecast and monitoring operations.
Therefore, the satellites will help to reduce China's dependence on foreign satellite products in this regard, the ministry said.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp plans to carry out more than 50 rocket launches this year to transport over 140 spacecraft to their orbit. That means the total number of launches in China is likely to surpass 60 in 2022 given that another State-owned contractor -- China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp – and the country's private space enterprises will also conduct launches using their own rockets.