A Long March 6 booster took off Tuesday from China with three commercial Earth observation satellites designed to record high-definition video and color imagery from a perch more than 300 miles above the planet.
The launch of three experimental remote sensing satellites last week signaled the resumption of Chinese space launches following multiple rocket failures since late last year, but a senior Chinese space official has confirmed the Chang’e 5 mission to return samples from the moon remains grounded.
Two Chinese satellites launched into the wrong orbit Dec. 28 have reached their planned perch at an altitude of around 300 miles and sent back their first high-resolution views of Earth for their Beijing-based commercial owner.
Two commercial Earth-imaging satellites launched by a Chinese Long March 2D booster Wednesday are flying in lower-than-planned orbits after an apparent rocket mishap, according to tracking data published by the U.S. military.
A U.S. Air Force spokesperson said Friday that the military has not detected any objects deployed in orbit by a Chinese Long March rocket launch Wednesday, but China’s official media outlets still have not acknowledged the apparent failure.
A Long March 4C rocket took off from northern China on Tuesday and deployed a radar imaging satellite into orbit about 460 miles above Earth to survey the oceans, crops and resources, and natural disasters.
China launched its latest military spy satellite Thursday with the successful deployment of the Yaogan 29 payload in polar orbit, likely adding a new radar reconnaissance craft to the country’s space fleet.