China executed its first launch of 2022 with a classified mission, the Shiyan 13 test satellite.
The Long March 2D rocket carrying Shiyan 13 launched from the China National Space Administration's (CNSA) northern Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center Tuesday (Jan. 17) at 10:35 a.m. local time (0235 GMT, or 9:35 p.m. EST on Jan. 16)
The satellite was sent successfully into its "predetermined orbit," CNSA said in a statement (opens in new tab) machine-translated from Chinese. The statement added that given low temperatures of minus 37 degrees Celsius (minus 35 Fahrenheit) at the launch site, the launch team added "product sealing measures" to the rocket to assure a safe launch.
"The Experiment No. 13 satellite is mainly used to carry out space environment detection and related technology experiments," CNSA added of the mission, saying it plans "more than 40 space launch missions" for 2022. China performed a record-breaking 55 launches in 2021.
Tracking information later showed that Shiyan-13 is in a near-polar orbit of 99 degrees, ranging between 221 miles and 805 miles (357 km and 1,297 km) above Earth, SpaceNews reported (opens in new tab).
"Shiyan are understood to be a series of test satellites, which first launched in 2004," SpaceNews added. "China currently has more than ten Shiyan satellites in sun-synchronous and geosynchronous orbits."
No other information about Shiyan 13's use or payload has been provided in Chinese state media, although the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the main contractor for China's space program, did note that the rocket used a new 6-foot (2 meters) satellite separation device due to unique requirements of the mission.