Weather satellite launched to support the Olympics
Posted: May 27, 2008
China launched a polar-orbiting weather satellite early Tuesday, giving forecasters another tool to make detailed weather predictions for the Beijing Olympics later this year, state media reported.
The Feng Yun 3A spacecraft, the first in a new series of weather observatories, flew into space aboard a Long March 4C rocket launched from the Taiyuan space center in northeastern China's Shanxi province. Liftoff was at 0302 GMT (11:02 p.m. EDT), or shortly after 11 a.m. China time, according to the Xinhua news agency.
Feng Yun 3A will circle Earth's poles during its mission, studying the planet's climate and weather patterns to improve the precision of forecasts. The satellite will provide sharper medium-range forecasts of up to two weeks, Xinhua reported.
The 5,060-pound craft is the second space observatory heralded by China as an Olympic forecasting satellite. A similar weather platform was placed in geostationary orbit in late 2006 to provide short-range forecasts.
Officials expect Feng Yun 3A to be operational by the Aug. 8 opening of the Beijing Games.
Feng Yun 3A carries a dozen instruments to gather imagery and analyze changes in the atmosphere, according to Xinhua.
Tuesday's mission was the 26th space launch to reach orbit this year from spaceports around the world. It marked the second launch for China's space program in 2008.
China's next launch will deliver the Chinasat 9 direct broadcasting satellite to orbit in early June, according to the craft's French builders.