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China Launches Gaofen 2 Earth Observation Satellite

By Caleb Henry | August 20, 2014
      The Long March 4B rocket carrying China's Gaofen 2 satellite. Photo: Xinhua

      The Long March 4B rocket carrying China’s Gaofen 2 satellite. Photo: Xinhua

      [Via Satellite 08-20-2014] On Aug. 19, China launched the Gaofen 2 Earth Observation (EO) satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, located in the country’s Shanxi Province, aboard a Long March 4B rocket. Gaofen 2 is the second of seven planned high definition EO satellites China plans to place in orbit by 2020. The country launched the first satellite in the series, Gaofen 1, in April 2013.

      The launch was closely watched by the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB), whose joint Sino-Brazilian spacecraft, the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite 3 (CBERS 3) was destroyed during a Long March 4B launch failure in December 2013. According to AEB, the recent launch confirms that the 2013 failure was the result of a malfunction in the third stage that has since been resolved. China and Brazil have accelerated the CBERS schedule, and extended the number of satellites, with the next, CBERS 4, scheduled to launch in December 2014.

      China’s latest launch also carried a small satellite from Poland. The satellite, named the Bright Target Explorer (BRITE), is the first in a constellation of six designed by Canadian, Austrian and Polish institutes. The satellites are designed to study stars that are brighter and hotter than the Sun.