China launches new Gaofen 12 Earth observation satellite

China has launched another in its series of Gaofen Earth observation satellites as it continues building out its space infrastructure.

A Long March 4C rocket lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 11:46 a.m. EDT June 27 (1546 GMT, 11:46 p.m. Beijing time), according (opens in new tab) to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The mission payload, Gaofen 12 (03), is now in a near-polar orbit with an average altitude of 390 miles (628 kilometers), very similar to that of the previous two Gaofen 12 satellites, launched in 2019 and 2021.

Related: China's Long March rocket family: History and photos

The launch of China's third Gaofen-12 satellite (Image credit: CCTV)

Little is known about the satellite and its instruments. It is described as a microwave remote sensing satellite by CASC and will, according to Chinese state media, be used in a variety of fields including land surveys, urban planning, road network design, crop yield estimation and disaster relief.

The new satellite joins other Gaofen ("high resolution") remote sensing satellites, including optical and radar satellites, in the China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS).

The launch was China's 22nd of the year, with the country planning more than 50 missions in 2022.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI (opens in new tab).