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China launches Yunhai-1 03 Earth-observing satellite into orbit

China has sent a new Earth-observing satellite into space.

A Long March 2D rocket carrying the Yunhai-1 03 satellite lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Tuesday (Sept. 20) at 7:15 p.m. EDT (2315 GMT; 7:15 a.m. local time on Wednesday, Sept. 21).

Chinese state media said the satellite will be used (opens in new tab) for "detecting the atmospheric, marine and space environments, disaster prevention and mitigation, and scientific experiments." Not much else is known about the Yunhai-1 series of spacecraft.

Related: China National Space Administration: Facts & information

A Long March 2D rocket launches the Yunhai-1 03 Earth-observing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Sept. 20, 2022. (Image credit: CCTV)

Yunhai-1 03's predecessor, Yunhai-1 02, launched in September 2019 and was apparently whacked by a piece of space junk in March 2021. The cause of the collision has been traced to a small piece of a Zenit-2 Russian rocket body. 

Yunhai 1-02 appears to still be capable of adjusting its orbit despite the crash, which occurred at an altitude of 485 miles (780 kilometers), space junk expert Jonathan McDowell said in August 2021 (opens in new tab)

McDowell also said (opens in new tab) the incident was the first major confirmed orbital collision since February 2009. Back then, a defunct Russian military spacecraft, Kosmos-2251, collided with an operational communications satellite known as Iridium 33, creating 1,800 pieces of trackable debris (opens in new tab) by the following October. 

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she also tackles topics like diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, three space shuttle missions in Florida, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Her latest book, Leadership Moments from NASA, 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.