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China helps Egypt launch satellite into orbit

By Zhao Lei | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-05 09:22
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An artist's impression of the MisrSat 2 satellite. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China launched a remote-sensing satellite for Egypt on Monday, marking a new feat in the two nation's space cooperation, according to the China National Space Administration.

The MisrSat 2 satellite was lifted by a Long March 2C carrier rocket that blasted off at 12:10 pm from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

Designed and built by Aerospace Dongfanghong, a subsidiary of the China Academy of Space Technology, the spacecraft is a small optical remote-sensing satellite tasked with obtaining data for Egypt's land and water resources development and agricultural operations, the CNSA said in a news release after the launch.

Remote-sensing satellites refer to those used for observing, surveying and measuring objects on land or at sea as well as monitoring weather.

The MisrSat 2 project is funded by the Chinese government. It has become a symbol of China's cooperation with other countries in advanced space technology as well as a milestone in China-Egypt space collaboration, according to the Chinese administration.

The satellite contract was signed in January 2019, with China agreeing to help Egypt build an optical remote-sensing satellite, a ground control station and a data research facility.

Research and development of the MisrSat 2 started in September that year.

The ground testing of the spacecraft was conducted at the Egyptian Satellite Assembly, Integration and Test Center in Cairo, which was built with Chinese funding and technological assistance and opened in June.

Many researchers and engineers from Egypt took part in China's training programs and played important roles during the design, production and testing work. Through this program, Egypt has been able to accumulate more knowledge about satellite development and operations and improved its space industry system, the CNSA noted.

Pang Zhihao, an expert on space exploration technology who worked at the China Academy of Space Technology for decades, said that thanks to the MisrSat 2 project, Egypt has become the first African country capable of assembling, integrating and testing satellites.

"The satellite features well developed technologies and high equipment reliability and can fully meet Egypt's demands," he said. "It was manufactured based on China's CAST-1000 satellite platform and incorporates smart designs that make it very easy for controllers to operate it."

A statement from Aerospace Dongfanghong on Monday quoted Egyptian space engineers as saying that China's spacecraft technologies are of world class and have moved the African nation ahead of other countries on the continent.

Ahmed Al-Rafei, an official of the Egyptian Space Agency in charge of the project, told local media in June that the MisrSat 2 "is a qualitative leap in the field of space technology", adding that the 350-kilogram satellite has high-resolution imaging capabilities.

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