China continued its record-breaking 12 months of launches by sending two satellites into orbit in latest days.
The two new satellites launched on separate rockets and from completely different space facilities, however they share a reputation, Gaofen (“high resolution”). While each will observe the Earth, every may have completely different roles and customers.
Most just lately, orange flames lit up the pre-dawn sky over Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center within the Gobi Desert on Monday (Nov. 22) at 5:45 p.m. EST (2245 GMT, 7:45 a.m. native time Nov. 23) because the engines of a Long March 4C rocket ignited.
Aboard was the Gaofen 3 (02) radar Earth commentary satellite, which rose to roughly 469 miles (755 kilometers) above Earth in a sun synchronous orbit. This particular sort of orbit, which almost passes over the planet’s poles, signifies that every time the satellite passes over any location on Earth, it’s at all times the identical native solar time.
Gaofen 3 (02) joins the primary Gaofen 3 satellite, which China launched into an analogous orbit in August 2016, to type a constellation that makes use of radar to review each the land and the ocean. The pair might be used for marine catastrophe prevention and mitigation, dynamic marine setting monitoring, environmental safety, water conservancy, agriculture and meteorology.
China’s National Satellite Ocean Application Center of the Ministry of Natural Resources, along with associated departments, will take duty for on-orbit testing. The satellite was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and options upgrades over the primary Gaofen 3, together with optimized imaging, improved ship-positioning know-how and real-time onboard processing that makes imagery out there a lot quicker than transmitting uncooked knowledge does.
Gaofen satellites are optical and radar distant sensing satellites that type the China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS). The program was permitted in 2010 and the primary satellite, Gaofen 1, launched in 2013.
Information has been printed about lots of the Gaofen satellites and their civilian functions. However particulars about higher-number Gaofen satellites are categorised.
And days earlier than Gaofen 3 (02), China launched simply such a payload. The thriller Gaofen 11 (03) satellite lifted off on Friday (Nov. 19) at 8:51 p.m. EST (Nov. 20 at 0151 GMT or 9:51 a.m. native time). Insulation tiles fell away from the Long March 4B because the rocket rose from its pad on the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China and into cloudy skies.
No particulars had been printed in regards to the satellite’s capabilities. State media reported that the satellite might be “mainly used for land surveys, city planning, land rights confirmation, road network design, crop yield estimation and disaster prevention and mitigation.”
Gaofen 11 satellites might have decision capabilities as sharp as 4 inches (10 centimeters), in response to reporting by SpaceNews. That stage of element would make these satellites corresponding to the assumed optical capabilities of the United States’ Keyhole-class categorised spy satellites. President Donald Trump tweeted an image of a satellite picture apparently taken by one such U.S. satellite again in August 2019, offering a sign of the capabilities of such a satellite.
China now has three Gaofen 11 satellites, with the brand new satellite becoming a member of predecessors launched in 2018 and 2020, with a rocket stage from the latter landing near a school. The U.S. National Reconnaissance Office oversees a constellation of categorised spy satellites in orbit.
The launches had been China’s forty fourth and forty fifth of 2021, extending a nationwide file for orbital launches in a calendar 12 months. In comparability, the U.S. has launched 44 instances, together with 5 launches of Rocket Lab’s Electron from New Zealand.