China Launches Two Remote Sensing Satellites into Orbit Secretively

China carried out a secretive launch of two satellites late Saturday from Taiyuan, adding to its earth observation proficiencies. The launching of the Long March 4B rocket that carries satellites HJ-2A(Huanjing-2A) and HJ-2B was done in secret at 1123hrs Eastern Saturday. The country carried out the launch without notice done via publishing airspace closures a few days before the launch. The news was only made public through a launch success report by the country’s government’s space servicer, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) made one hour after the launch.

HJ-2A and HJ-2B, which are medium-resolution environment monitoring satellites, consisting of 16M multispectral imager and 48M hyperspectral and electromagnetic imagers. The satellites are also loaded with atmospheric alteration devices and were categorized in a 600 by 654 KM orbits inclined by 98 degrees. The two satellites were developed in China by the country’s China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the country’s leading satellite designer under the supervision of CASC.

According to a Chinese mass media information, the satellites, which will be an upgrade to the HJ-1A and HJ-1B sprung in 2008, will be used to monitor both land and water resources. The satellites will also be used to monitor incoming disasters and also the agriculture and forestry sectors.

This secretive move by china marked yet another launch of the country’s recent launch with no warning at all. The country has carried out other secretive launches, including a test on a “reusable experiment spacecraft” done under tight security and releasing a payload, NORAD ID 46395, into orbit where it is still transmitting. Another undocumented launch carried out on September 14 saw a Long March 11 solid rocket initiated in the yellow sea ferry, a nine Jilin-1 Gaofen satellite into orbit. The satellites with remote sensing capabilities were flown directly over Taiwan though the NOTAM was issued a day after the launch.

In 2020, China carried out 29 launches, with four of them being a failure. One of the failures involved the botched launch of Long March 7A as well as the Expace Kuaizhou-11, while a failure of the Long March 3B led to the destruction of Palapa-N1, an Indonesian a communication satellite.

According to CASC, the country has projected to conduct around 40 launches this calendar year. The country has stipulated to conduct a launch on the expendable Long March 8, of which upgrades will be conducted on the launcher so that it can be able to recuperate the first stage as well as side boosters.