China Launches New Earth-Observing Satellite

China launched a secretiveEarth observation satellite early Monday for land surveys and disastermonitoring, according to state media reports.

The Yaogan 5 satelliteblasted off on a Long March 4B rocket at 0322 GMT Monday from the Taiyuanlaunch base in northern China. Launch occurred at 11:22 a.m. local time, thestate-owned Xinhua news agency reported.

The three-state rocketboosted the spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit, where the satellite willbegin operations in environmental surveillance, urban planning, crop studies,emergency response and space science experiments, according to Xinhua.

The new satellite is thefifth Yaogan craft launchedby China since 2006. The most recent launch occurred just two weeks ago.

Even-numbered members ofthe Yaogan fleet were launched from the Jiuquan space center aboard Long March2D boosters. Odd-numbered satellites flew into orbit from Taiyuan on Long March4B launchers.

Western analysts believeYaogan satellites could also be used for a range of military reconnaissanceapplications, but Chinese officials did not release any further details on thesatellites' missions.

Monday's launch was the10th space launch of the year for the Chinese spaceprogram. The flight also marked the 64th space launch of 2008 to reachorbit from sites around the world.

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