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China's Long March 2C rocket launches military surveillance satellites into orbit

China successfully launched three new military surveillance satellites into orbit on a Long March 2C rocket today (March 24).

Topped with three Yaogan-30 Group 6 surveillance satellites for the Chinese military, the rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's Sichuan province at 11:43 a.m. local time (0343 GMT; 11:43 p.m. EDT on March 23). 

The three satellites "will be used for electromagnetic environment detection and related technological tests," China's state-run news outlet CCTV reported (opens in new tab). The will join China's Chuangxin-5 satellite constellation, which now consists of 18 Yaogan satellites that have been launching in batches of three since the first trio launched in 2017. 

Video: Liftoff! China launches Yaogan-30 family remote-sensing satellites (opens in new tab)
Related:
Coronavirus isn't stopping China from launching rockets

A Chinese Long March 2C rocket lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center carrying three Yaogan surveillance satellites into orbit, on March 24, 2020.  (Image credit: CCTV)

Today's launch comes on the heels of a launch failure. On March 16, China's Long March 7A rocket failed to launch a classified satellite into orbit (opens in new tab). It was the debut launch for the new Long March 7A.

Although China has been one of the epicenters of the global coronavirus pandemic (opens in new tab), the country has continued to launch rockets throughout the outbreak — while making sure its engineers and other launch staff are properly protected in a quarantined environment. 

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Hanneke Weitering is an editor at Space.com with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.