China Launches New Ocean-Watching Satellite

Chinese Long March 3A Rocket Orbits New Satellite
China has developed a family of boosters over the years, including new development of a heavy-lift launcher to fly by 2011. Image (Image credit: China National Space Administration)

A Chinese ocean observation satellite launched Monday on a Long March rocket from the Taiyuan space center in northeastern China, according to state-run media.

The Haiyang 2A satellite lifted off at 2257 GMT (6:57 p.m. EDT) from the Taiyuan launching base in Shanxi province, the state-owned Xinhua news agency reported. Launch occurred at 6:57 a.m. local time in Beijing.

The remote sensing payload flew into orbit on top of a Long March 4B rocket, which placed the satellite in a 565-mile-high orbit with an inclination of 99 degrees, according to independent tracking data.

Xinhua declared the launch a success in its reporting.

China says Haiyang 2A will aid the supervision and survey of the maritime environment, helping prevent potential disasters at sea and contributing to marine weather forecasts.

The satellite features upgrades over two earlier ocean observing craft launched by China in 2002 and 2007. Haiyang 2A will study dynamic ocean environments such as sea surface winds, wave height and water temperatures.

Its instruments include a microwave sensor, a radiometer and an altimeter.

Earlier Haiyang 1 satellites monitored ocean pollution and shallow waters to help in the operation of harbors and ports. A third generation of satellites is planned to combine the Haiyang 1 and Haiyang 2 missions.

Monday's Long March flight was the eighth space launch of the year for China's space program.

The nation plans a feverish pace of space missions for the rest of 2011, including the launch of a man-rated space laboratory, the program's first orbital docking attempt, and more rocket flights with communications, military and scientific payloads.

Copyright 2011, all rights reserved.

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Stephen Clark is the Editor of Spaceflight Now, a web-based publication dedicated to covering rocket launches, human spaceflight and exploration. He joined the Spaceflight Now team in 2009 and previously wrote as a senior reporter with the Daily Texan. You can follow Stephen's latest project at (opens in new tab) and on Twitter (opens in new tab).