Secretive Remote Sensing Satellites Launched from China

HJ 2A and HJ 2B
Photo : European Space Agency

China launched satellites HJ-2A and HJ-2B. The satellites were launched by the Long March 4B rocket. The launch took place at 11:23 p.m. Eastern Saturday. Like most Chinese launches it was not announced publicly. However, mission success was announced after an hour of liftoff. The announcement was made by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC). The satellites are cataloged in a 600 by 654-kilometer orbit. They're currently inclined by 98 degrees. The Long March 4B third stage was in a 428 by 656-kilometer orbit.


HJ-2A and HJ-2B Infrared Imagers 

The HJ-2A and HJ-2B satellites are equipped with infrared imagers. They also have Hyperspectral imaging technology. They use 16-meter multispectral and 48-meter hyperspectral imagers. The satellites are equipped with atmospheric correction instruments. This removes the atmospheric effect on the reflectance values of images. China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) developed the satellites. This is the main satellite developer for CASC. 


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The two replace HJ-1A and HJ-1B launched in 2008. According to the Chinese media report, they'll monitor the environment. Their main focus will be on land and water resources. They'll also serve forestry and agriculture industries. 

The Long March 4B was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST). China performed a Long March 4B launch last week. The launch took place from Jiuquan. It also conducted a second test on-grid fans. The move was a follow-up on a 2019 test. HJ-2A and HJ-2B will add-on to China's capability.

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China has conducted several secretive launches. Most of them have little or no warning. It also tested a 'reusable experimental spacecraft'. The test was done under tight security. The spacecraft spent two days in orbit. The object released some payload into orbit. The spacecraft is in a 331 by 347-kilometer orbit. 

On Sept. 14 a Long March 11 launched from the Yellow Sea. The launch sent nine Jilin-1 Gaofen satellites. However, no announcements were made before the launch. Plans for the Chang'e-5 lunar sample return mission are underway. Preparation is taking place at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center. This follows the delivery of Long March 5 components this week. The launch will take place on November 27th. 

China has launched 29 times in 2020. Four of the launches failed. Long March 7A and Kuaizhou-11 launches failed. Long March 3B lost the Indonesian Palapa-N1 communications satellite. On Sept. 12 the Kuaizhou-1A rocket was also lost. 

China will make 40 launches in 2020. It will also introduce the Long March 8 this year. The upgraded launcher will recover the side and first-stage boosters. HJ 2A and HJ 2B are operated by China Centre for Resources Satellite Data and Application. The satellites are the second generation of small Chinese Earth observation satellites. The satellites provide weather imagery. 

HJ 2A and HJ 2B are remote sensing satellites. They have precision control and stability. Both have long lifespans and high mobility. The two provide infrared image data. They support the dynamic monitoring of the weather. This helps in disaster monitoring. It also helps in the protection and regulation of water resources. HJ 2A and HJ 2B will form a co-orbital constellation with Gaofen-1 and 6 satellites.

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