Find us on Google+

Chinese Earth observation satellites launched into lower-than-planned orbit

Two commercial Earth-imaging satellites launched by a Chinese Long March 2D booster Wednesday are flying in lower-than-planned orbits after an apparent rocket mishap, according to tracking data published by the U.S. military.

The two SuperView 1, or Gaojing 1, satellites are flying in egg-shaped orbits ranging from 133 miles (214 kilometers) to 325 miles (524 kilometers) in altitude at an inclination of 97.6 degrees.

The satellites would likely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere within months in such a low orbit, and it was unclear late Wednesday whether the craft had enough propellant to raise their altitudes.

The high-resolution Earth-observing platforms were supposed to go into a near-circular orbit around 300 miles (500 kilometers) above the planet to begin their eight-year missions collecting imagery for Siwei Star Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a government-owned entity.

The 1,234-pound-pound (560-kilogram) satellites lifted off at 0323 GMT Wednesday (10:23 p.m. EST) Tuesday from the Taiyuan space center in northern China’s Shanxi province on top of a 13-story Long March 2D rocket, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

The launch occurred at 11:23 a.m. Beijing time, marking China’s 22nd attempted space launch of the year, and the 21st rocket mission to reach orbit.

But the two-stage launcher did not put the SuperView 1 satellites into the expected orbit, raising concerns among outside observers that the Long March 2D ran into problems.

The mission also carried a small amateur radio satellites made by Beijing high school students.

The SuperView 1 satellites are designed to collect optical black-and-white imagery with a resolution of less than 20 inches (about 50 centimeters), making them the highest-resolution civilian Earth-observing satellites launched by China.

The satellites can capture imagery in nearly 7.5-mile-wide (12-kilometer) swaths, turning to observe multiple locations on a single pass, or record images of the same point from multiple angles, allowing processors on the ground to generate stereo three-dimensional images.

Artist’s concept of Beijing Space View’s planned constellation of optical and radar imaging satellites. The spacecraft illustrated at upper left is one of the SuperView 1 satellites launched Wednesday. Credit: Beijing Space View

Color images from the SuperView 1 satellites will have a resolution of around 6 feet, or 2 meters, according to information released by Beijing Space View Technology Ltd., which holds exclusive rights to distribute and sell SuperView 1 imagery globally for mapping, land use, urban planning, agricultural, oil and gas exploration, maritime, security, defense and intelligence applications, the company said.

Beijing Space View’s sister-company Siwei WorldView is a joint venture between Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co. Ltd., Navinfo and DigitalGlobe, the Colorado-based owned of the WorldView and GeoEye commercial Earth observation satellites.

The two distributors sell high-resolution imagery commercially in the Chinese market from China’s own civilian-operated remote sensing observatories and international satellites like the WorldView and GeoEye series, South Korea’s Kompsat spacecraft, Japan’s ALOS satellite, the Spanish-owned Deimos missions, and Kazakhstan’s KazEOSat 1 Earth observation platform.

The SuperView 1 satellites — if they can be salvaged and commissioned — would have given China its own commercial imaging spacecraft.

Two more SuperView satellites are scheduled to launch in mid-2017, and Siwei Star aims to have a fleet of more than two dozen Earth observation craft in orbit by 2022, including 16 SuperView-type optical satellites, four platforms with even better optical imaging capabilities, four X-band synthetic aperture radar satellites to observe through clouds and darkness, and multiple video and hyperspectral spacecraft.

Email the author.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

Source: You’ll find lots of information about the planets Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Also we have facts about the space station, ISS, SpaceX launch, space program, and outerspace. Space Flight

by
Chinese Earth observation satellites launched into lower-than-planned orbit

Posted in Space Flight and tagged by with no comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *