China Just launched a New Earth-Watching Satellite Into Orbit

On Thanksgiving (Nov. 28), China launched another satellite into Earth's orbit, capping off a very busy month for the country.

Gaofen-12, a new Earth observation satellite, flew to space from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China's Shanxi Province, according to state news source Xinhua. The rocket successfully took off at 7:52 a.m. Beijing time on Nov. 28, which is 6:52 p.m. EDT or 2352 GMT Nov. 27.

The satellite launched on a Long March-4C rocket, which marks the 320th flight for this type of rocket. Footage from Chinese television station CCTV showed the rocket flawlessly lifting off into a cloudy sky, flames spitting out from beneath the booster. The footage also shows engineers and other officials closely monitoring the rocket's progress into orbit. "I hereby announce that the launch mission is successful," said an unnamed engineer, according to CCTV's translation.

Related: This Is the 1st Photo of China's Mars Explorer Launching in 2020

Gaofen-12 launches from China on Nov. 28, 2019. (Image credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)


"As part of the country's high-definition Earth observation project, the microwave remote sensing satellite is capable of providing photographs with a resolution of better than a meter [three feet]," Xinhua added. "Gaofen-12 will be used in land surveys, urban planning, road network design and crop yield estimate, as well as disaster relief."

China's plethora of rocket launches in November included the launch of two boosters from two different rocket centers in less than three hours. Some of the satellite's that have so far been sent into space include remote sensing, navigation and Earth observation capabilities.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: