China launched a Long March 2C rocket Friday (July 26) with three Yaogan 30 military satellites, and tested new grid fins on the Long March’s first stage to help guide the spent booster away from populated areas.
The two-stage Long March 2C rocket lifted off from the Xichang space center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province at 0357 GMT Friday (11:57 p.m. EDT Thursday), according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the country’s lead developer of satellite launchers.
Like it is predecessors, the exact purpose of the fifth group of Yaogan 30 satellites — designated Yaogan 30-05 — remains a secret. Information released by Chinese state media said the spacecraft are designed for “remote sensing” missions, and will be “used for electromagnetic environment detection and related technological tests.”
The Yaogan series of satellites are believed to be operated by the Chinese military for intelligence-gathering purposes. Some analysts suggested the 12 Yaogan 30-01, 30-02, 30-03 and 30-04 satellites launched in 2017 and 2018 could be testing new electronic eavesdropping equipment or helping the Chinese military track U.S. and other foreign naval deployments.
But details about the spacecraft and their missions have not been disclosed by the Chinese government.
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