China’s surge continues with HaiYang-2A launch via Long March 4B

China has launched the first of a news series of oceanographic satellites, with the HaiYang-2A (HY-2A) launched at 22:57UTC on August 15. The launch was carried out by a Long March 4B (Chang Zheng-4B) launch vehicle from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, as the Chinese ramp up their impressive launch rate. This mission was originally scheduled to take place in 2009. However, it was delayed for unspecified reasons. Another delay – albeit only a day – was also required due to unacceptable weather conditions at the launch site.

The new ocean dynamic environmental HaiYang-2 satellite series is a very important piece of China’s civil spacecraft program. The satellite will be used to monitor ocean wind fields, sea levels and temperatures, waves, currents, tides, and storms in order to provide disaster and weather forecasting information. Instruments onboard include a microwave imager (microwave brightness temperature), a dual-band radar altimeter (working on Ku-band and C-band) – used to measure sea levels and wind speeds – and Ku-band radar scatterometer for measuring the sea surface wind field. The design and development of the HY-2 series began in April 2007, with the program funded by the Chinese State Oceanic Administration. HY-2 will be operated by the National Satellite Ocean Application Service. The HaiYang-2 satellites are part of a system consisting of ocean colour remote sensing satellites, ocean dynamic environment satellites and ocean surveillance satellites. The colour remote sensing satellites use infrared remote sensing technology to monitor ocean pollution and topography in shallow waters.

Two satellites in this series were launched: the HY-1A HaiYan-1A (27430 2002-024A) was launched at 0150UTC on May 15, 2002 by a Long March 4B (Y5) launch vehicle from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center LC1 launch complex (together with the FY-1D Feng Yun-1D meteorological satellite), while the HY-1B HaiYan-1B (31113 2007-010A) was launched at 0327UTC on April 11, 2007 by a Long March 2C/2 (Y18) launch vehicle from the same launch site. The HaiYang-2 dynamic environment satellites utilize microwave remote sensing technology to monitor ocean wind fields and ocean surface temperatures, and the HaiYang-3 ocean surveillance satellites will have the combined features of the HaiYang-1 and HaiYang-2 series. HaiYang-2A – built by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) -will operate on a 963 km sun-synchronous orbit. The mission will have two orbital phases: on the first two years it will have a 14-day cycle and then one year with a geodetic orbit – a 168 day cycle with a 5-day approximate subcycle.

This was the 145th successful Chinese orbital launch, the 144th launch of a Chang Zheng launch vehicle, the 33rd successful orbital launch from Taiyuan (the 1st in 2011) and the eighth orbital Chinese launch in 2011.

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