PARIS -- China's newest geostationary-orbiting meteorological satellite, FengYun 2D, was successfully launched Dec. 8 aboard a Chinese Long March 3A rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China, Chinese government officials announced.

The 3,086-pound (1,400-kilogram) satellite will operate from 86.5 degrees east longitude and will serve as a backup for the FengYun 2C satellite, which was launched in October 2004 and is located at 105 degrees east longitude.

China is an active member of the global World Weather Watch system, coordinated by the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization, which promotes free global sharing of weather data worldwide.

The Chinese Meteorological Administration, in November, announced it would extend the reach of its FengYun system as far west as Pakistan, and as far east as New Zealand, by leasing commercial telecommunications satellite capacity to relay the data to users equipped with small satellite-reception dish antennas.