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 (opens in new tab) 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.
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 (opens in new tab).
McDowell also said (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) by the following October.