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 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

McDowell also said 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 by the following October. 

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: