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. 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
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. It was the debut launch for the new Long March 7A.

Although China has been one of the epicenters of the global coronavirus pandemic, 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. 

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 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 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.