China Sends one more Gaofen Satellite to Space

China has sent the Gaofen-13 into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, Sichuan province, in the first of a dozen major missions within the coming months.  the satellite was launched aboard a Long March-3B rocket from the country’s southwest station on Monday 26th. China began the Gaofen project in 2010 and has launched over 20 satellites into space, the majority within the past two years. ‘Gaofen’ is a Chinese short-form for ‘high resolution,’ a callback to the High-Resolution Earth Observation Satellite program.

The Gaofen-13 is a high-orbit remote sensing satellite within the project. It is intended to take high-resolution pictures of the Earth. The images are taken of the Earth, including infrared photos, have a variety of civilian and military applications. Some of the various civilian uses include predicting agricultural output, forecasting the weather, and identifying minerals. 

Military applications include identifying and tracking stealth jets. In September, China published a video showing a tracked flight of a fighter jet, presumed to be an American fighter jet, the F-22. The video was taken by the Jilin-1 Gaofen-3 satellite. Stealth jets are developed to deter the observation by radars but are observable by optical surveillance. With higher resolution cameras and improved detection and monitoring capacities, these satellites will provide valuable support for air defence radars with the help of artificial intelligence.

The satellite launching sites in China will have launches nearly every week by the end of March 2021, says Zhang Xueyu, the Xichang Launch Center director, with the shortest delay being just five days. Zhang told the Science and Technology Daily paper that the frequency is unparalleled and continuously near the edge of their capability.

The launch of the Chang’e-5 mission to the moon, which will take place in late November, will be the most important.  It is scheduled to land on the moon and return with approximately 2kg of rock samples (4.4 pounds).

The Chinese space industry has had a successful year with several important missions completed. One of the country’s successes includes sending the Tianwen-1, its first independent Mars probe, on the way to the red planet.  It has also finished installing its 30-satellite constellation named the BeiDou navigation system to rival the Global Positioning System (GPS) from the United States. A successful test of the heavy-lifting Long March-5B was also completed. Big on China’s plans for 2021 is installing one of the core modules of its permanent space station.