Friday, May 3, 2019

China Launches Two Satellites for Scientific Experiments

A Long March 4B rocket lifts off Tuesday from the Taiyuan space center in northeastern China. Credit: Xinhua

China successfully sent two Tianhui II-01 satellites into orbit at 6:52 a.m., Beijing Time, on Tuesday from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China's Shanxi Province.

The satellites were launched by a Long March 4B carrier rocket, which was the 303rd mission of the Long March series carrier rockets.

The satellites will be used for scientific experiments, land resource survey, geographic survey and mapping.

The three-stage Long March 4B rocket, standing nearly 15 stories tall, turned south from Taiyuan, dropping its spent rocket bodies on Chinese territory. The Long March 4B’s upper stage delivered the two Tianhui mapping satellites to an orbit more than 310 miles (500 kilometers) high, with an inclination of 97.5 degrees to the equator, according to U.S. military tracking data.

The mission was not announced in advance by Chinese officials, and warning notices to pilots typically released ahead of space missions were not available before the launch.

Social media users posted videos they claimed show the rocket’s first stage falling near a town downrange from Taiyuan. Additional videos and photos showed part of a rocket engine and structural components near a highway.

China launched three Tianhui 1 mapping satellites in 2010, 2012 and 2015 into the same type of orbit targeted on Tuesday’s launch with the two Tianhui II-01 spacecraft.

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