China launched the second batch of Yunhai-2 satellites

22.03.2024/07/27 XNUMX:XNUMX    320

China has launched a new batch of Yunhai-2 weather satellites, likely to be used by its military. The 2D long march of the Yuanzheng-3 booster rocket launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert at 1:27 a.m. EST (05:27 UTC) on March 21. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed the launch. success after about three hours, also revealing that the payload for the mission would be a batch of Yunhai-2 (02) satellites.

The satellites were likely launched into a series of orbits after a series of YZ-3 upper stage burns. The launch follows a similar mission in 2018, when the first group of six Yunhai-2 satellites was launched into orbit using a combination of Long March 2D and YZ-3.

According to Chinese state media, these satellites are described only briefly because they are designed to detect the atmospheric environment, monitor the space environment, prevent and reduce disasters, and conduct scientific experiments.

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However, some Western analysts are evaluating the Yunhai series as military weather satellites. They are believed to be using Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) radio coverage (GNSS-RO) to collect atmospheric data. GNSS-RO detects changes in GNSS signals as they pass through Earth's atmosphere and ionosphere, providing data useful for weather and atmospheric forecasting, ionospheric research, and other fields.

Interestingly, the first Yunhai-2 satellites, launched at the end of 2018, were launched into initial orbits, three of which orbited at 520 km and another three at 1095 km. However, all six are now in roughly circular 800-kilometer orbits, raising or lowering their orbits significantly in mid-2019.

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The YZ-3 ("Expedition-3") is equipped with a 5 kN main engine and an autonomous navigation and guidance system. It can perform more than 20 autonomous fast orbital maneuvers. According to the Shanghai Academy of Space Technology (SAST), this is mainly for the deployment of multiple satellites in different orbits. SAST also produces the Long March 2D.

The YZ-1S upper stage failure last week did not affect Thursday's mission. This advanced degree was developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), another CASC institute.

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The US Space Force is tracking the YZ-1S from the DRO-A/B launch in a highly elliptical high Earth orbit. Orbital data from March 15 show the upper stage in an orbit measuring 524 x 132 kilometers, just short of the Moon. A pair of small satellites was supposed to enter a distant lunar retrograde orbit (DRO). China has not provided any updates since a brief note to the media acknowledging the malfunction.

The Yunhai-2 (02) satellite launch is China's 13th orbital mission in 2024. China plans to conduct about 100 launches during 2024, about 70 of which will be conducted by CASC. China's commercial launch service providers are planning about 30 launches. The previous launch, which took place on March 19 at Eastern, sent the Queqiao-2 lunar communications satellite to the Moon.