Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

China lofts weather satellite

Posted: June 26, 2000

Chinese weather satellite. Photo: Courtesy
China successfully launched a new weather satellite on Sunday atop a Long March 3 rocket, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Liftoff occurred at 1150 GMT from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Initial data showed the rocket placed Fengyun 2 into a highly elliptical transfer orbit with a low point of 127 miles and high point of 22,392 miles. The satellite will boost itself into a circular geostationary orbit 22,300 miles over the equator at 105 degrees East longitude.

The spacecraft is China's second geostationary meteorological satellite and is an improved version of a satellite launched in 1997, Xinhua said. The satellite has a designed life span of three years.

The satellite will be a crucial tool in generating medium- and long-term weather forecasts, monitoring natural disasters in China and in studying the ecological environment in the western part of the country, according to officials.

The Fengyun 2 satellite was jointly developed by the Shanghai Aerospace Technology Research Institute under the China Aerospace Corporation, the Chinese Research Institute of Space Technology and several other research institutes, Xinhua reported.

China launched two Fengyun 1 weather satellites in 1988 and 1990, though the craft were placed into sun-synchronous orbits.

The launch was the 61st by a Long March rocket and the 13th flight of a Long March 3 rocket.