China launched a remote-sensing satellite for Egypt late on Sunday (Dec. 3) as space cooperation between the two countries deepens.
A Long March 2C rocket lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert at 11:10 p.m. EST on Sunday (0410 GMT, or 12:10 p.m. Beijing time on Dec. 4), with insulation tiles falling from the rocket as it rose into the sky. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation confirmed launch success within an hour of liftoff.
The main payload was the MISRSAT-2 remote-sensing satellite for Egypt. The satellite will deliver imagery with a resolution of 6.5 feet (2 meters) per pixel in panchromatic mode, or visible light, and 26.2 feet (8 m) per pixel for multispectral images, which will focus on several specific bands.
The satellite will assist Egypt's work on land and resource utilization, water conservancy, agriculture and other fields, according to China National Space Administration (CNSA).
CNSA described the cooperative satellite project as a milestone for China-Egypt space cooperation. China provided Egyptian personnel with training in satellite design and final assembly test operations and supported Egypt in building a satellite assembly and test center as part of the international collaboration. China also conducted a pair of satellite launches for the African country earlier this year.
Also aboard Sunday's launch were the Starpool 02-A and Starpool 02-B remote-sensing satellites, which were developed by the Chinese company Elliptical Space and Time (EllipSpace). All three satellites entered near-polar orbits.
The launch was China’s 55th orbital mission of the year. It was also the 499th Long March launch to date, according to CASC. The first liftoff of the venerable rocket family took place in April 1970.
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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.