China launches observation satellite with homegrown imager

By Zhao Lei | | Updated: 2020-07-03 12:35
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A high-resolution multi-mode imaging satellite is launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province, on July 3, 2020. [Photo by Zheng Taotao/for]

China launched an Earth-observation satellite into space from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in North China's Shanxi province on Friday morning, according to the China National Space Administration.

The satellite, which carries a domestically developed high-resolution multi-mode imager, was lifted atop a Long March 4B carrier rocket at 11:10 am, the administration said in a statement.

The satellite can provide remote-sensing images and data for a number of public sector fields and businesses including natural resource surveying, disaster relief, agriculture, forestry, environmental protection and urban construction.

An optical remote-sensing satellite in the Gaofen series, the spacecraft was designed and made by the China Academy of Space Technology under the State-owned contractor China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. It is expected to operate at least eight years in a sun-synchronous orbit.

Its imager is the country's highest-definition civilian camera, capable of taking clear pictures of a car's windows from an altitude of more than 600 kilometers, the academy said.

The imager can also identify growth conditions of different types of plants in a farmland, helping agricultural workers to better estimate yields.

China launched the Gaofen program in May 2010 and listed it as one of the 16 national important projects in science and technology. The program aims at forming a space-based, high-resolution Earth observation network by 2020. By now, more than 10 Gaofen satellites have been launched and are in service.

Images and data from the Gaofen satellites have been widely used in more than 20 industries across China and have helped reduce the country's dependence on foreign remote-sensing products, the administration said.

In addition, a small satellite designed to promote knowledge about space science among teenagers was also launched in the mission. It will carry out scientific experiments such as image and voice data transmission.

Friday's launch was the 337th for the Long March rocket series.

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