PARIS — China launched its second mission of 2012 this week, lofting the FengYun-2F geostationary meteorological satellite atop a Long March 3A rocket.
The fifth in a series of seven FengYun weather satellites, the spacecraft lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan province Jan. 12. China plans to launch the remaining meteorological orbiters in 2012 and 2014.
Three days prior to the FengYun-2F mission, a Long March 4B rocket orbited a Chinese Earth-observation satellite, the Ziyuan 3, to a 500-km (300-mi.) Sun-synchronous orbit inclined at 97.5 deg. (Aerospace DAILY, Jan. 11). Originally slated to take place in 2011, the Jan. 9 launch from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China’s northern Shanxi province also carried the VesselSat2, a 28-kg (60-lb.) maritime-surveillance satellite built for Fort Lee, N.J.-based Orbcomm by LuxSpace Sarl, a Luxembourg-based manufacturer owned by OHB AG of Germany.
Along with VesselSat1, launched atop an Indian PSLV rocket in October, VesselSat2 will be integrated into Orbcomm’s next-generation constellation of 18 Automatic Identification Service-enabled satellites, following in-orbit test and checkout.