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China launches Haiyang 1D satellite to monitor Earth's oceans

An ocean observation satellite soared into space from China's Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the country's north Shanxi Province on Thursday (June 11).

The Haiyang 1D (HY-1D) satellite — a name that means "ocean" in Chinese — rode to orbit aboard a Long March 2C rocket. Launch time was 2:31 a.m. Beijing time Thursday, June 11 (2:31 p.m. EDT or 1631 GMT Wednesday, June 10) and the satellite was put into space successfully, according to Chinese state news sources.

"The new satellite will form China's first satellite constellation for marine civil service together with HY-1C (opens in new tab), which was launched in September 2018, and double the current ocean observation data, according to CNSA [China National Space Administration] and the Ministry of Natural Resources," state news provider Xinhua said in a report (opens in new tab).

Video: China launches ocean observation satellite (opens in new tab)
Related: China launches 2 rockets in 2 days, lofting 4 satellites to orbit (opens in new tab)

A Chinese Long March 2C rocket launches the Haiyang 1D ocean monitoring satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China, on June 11, 2020. (Image credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)

"The satellite constellation is expected to improve China's capabilities in observing ocean color, coastal resources and ecological environment, and ramp up support for meteorology, agriculture, water conservation and transportation," Xinhua added. Multiple news sources said the satellite would also help manage Chinese fisheries and track ships.

The satellite has a spatial resolution of 165 feet (50 meters) and will allow a more frequent revisit capability to certain locations after it is added into the constellation.

"Each satellite can see the globe twice a day for morning and evening. And for two satellites, it will be four times [for the whole day]. So the overall observation efficiency will be doubled," said Bai Zhaoguang, director of science and technology commission with developer China Spacesat Co. Ltd, in state news source CCTV (opens in new tab).

The launch was developed by Aerospace Dongfanghong Satellite Co., Ltd., affiliated with the Fifth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, according to a machine-translated report from Space China (opens in new tab). This mission was the 334th launch of the Long March rocket series.

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.