China launched a secretive Earth observation satellite early Monday for land surveys and disaster monitoring, according to state media reports.
The Yaogan 5 satellite blasted off on a Long March 4B rocket at 0322 GMT Monday from the Taiyuan launch base in northern China. Launch occurred at 11:22 a.m. local time, the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported.
The three-state rocket boosted the spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit, where the satellite will begin operations in environmental surveillance, urban planning, crop studies, emergency response and space science experiments, according to Xinhua.
The new satellite is the fifth Yaogan craft launched by China since 2006. The most recent launch occurred just two weeks ago.
Even-numbered members of the Yaogan fleet were launched from the Jiuquan space center aboard Long March 2D boosters. Odd-numbered satellites flew into orbit from Taiyuan on Long March 4B launchers.
Western analysts believe Yaogan satellites could also be used for a range of military reconnaissance applications, but Chinese officials did not release any further details on the satellites' missions.
Monday's launch was the 10th space launch of the year for the Chinese space program. The flight also marked the 64th space launch of 2008 to reach orbit from sites around the world.
- Chinese Astronauts Complete First Spacewalk
- Images - Making History: China?s First Manned Spaceflight
- Images - 20 Great Rocket Launches
Copyright 2008 SpaceflightNow.com, all rights reserved.