China just sent three more reconnaissance satellites to orbit.
A Long March 2D rocket lifted off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southern China on Friday (Oct. 14) at 3:12 p.m. EDT (1912 GMT; 3:12 a.m. on Oct. 15 Beijing time).
The rocket apparently carried three satellites in China's Yaogan 36 series. The spacecraft were successfully deployed into their designated orbit, according to Chinese media reports (opens in new tab).
It's unclear exactly what the newly launched trio will do; China reveals few details about the Yaogan satellites, whose name translates as "remote sensing."
Chinese state media have said that the spacecraft gather scientific data, helping researchers conduct land surveys and monitor agriculture production, among other tasks. However, Western experts believe that Yaogan satellites also collect imagery for use by the Chinese military.
There's likely to be considerable diversity in Yaogan job descriptions; China has launched dozens of the spacecraft over the past few years, including 20 since March alone.
The Yaogan 36 launch was part of a busy day in spaceflight. Also on Friday, SpaceX's Crew-4 astronaut mission came home from the International Space Station after a 5.5-month orbital stay.
And a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to loft a communications satellite for the European company Eutelsat on Friday night at 11:26 p.m. EDT (0326 GMT on Oct. 15). You can watch that liftoff live here at Space.com when the time comes, courtesy of SpaceX.
In addition, Russia was expected to launch a mysterious military satellite called EMKA-3 on Friday afternoon. That apparently didn't happen, however; EMKA-3 now may go up over the weekend.
Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).