China launches Fengyun-4B weather satellite into orbit

A new Chinese weather satellite was put into orbit on Wednesday (June 2) with “complete success,” according to one of the participating public contractors.

The Fengyun-4B flew into space aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 12:17 p.m. EDT (5:17 p.m. GMT, or 12:17 a.m. local time. Thursday, June 3).

The new satellite joins a network of geostationary and polar orbiting Fengyun satellites and will enter geostationary orbit, according to The first in the Fengyun series, a low-earth orbiting satellite testing machine called the FY-1A, launched in 1988 for a short mission, the report adds.

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A Chinese Long March 3B rocket launches the Fengyun-4B satellite into orbit from the Xichang satellite launch center. (Image credit: Guo Wenbin / Xinhua)

The Fengyun-4B will be “mainly used for weather analysis and forecasting, short-term weather disaster warning, short-term climate forecasting, ecological and spatial environment monitoring,” the company said. public China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. said in a report automatically translated into English.

The last geostationary satellite launched in the series was Fengyun-4A, which flew into space in 2016. It was also used to capture images of the Moon and Earth during Chinese launches to lunar regions. New imagery and space environment payloads aboard the Fengyun-4B “will improve China’s high-frequency surveillance of the atmosphere and the ability to observe a number of smaller-scale weather phenomena. and of shorter duration “, SpaceNews said in a recent report.

China plans more than 40 launches in 2021, SpaceNews said in January, and recently it has come under scrutiny from the new Biden administration. The current law of a 2011 ruling prohibits NASA from most activity with China without the express support of Congress, but government concern has grown after the launch of a new Chinese space station and the first China’s robotic landing on Mars, among other activities.

Biden’s new representative for NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has condemned China’s decision to allow a large Long March 5B rocket to dive uncontrollably to Earth in May, the second such incident in a row. year. In addition, in recent weeks, congressional officials have asked both Nelson and Biden’s candidate for deputy administrator Pam Melroy about China’s activities in space.

In his testimony, Nelson pointed to recent Chinese robotic missions to the Moon and Mars as proof that NASA must act quickly in implementing its own human landing program, called Artemis. During his own hearing, Melroy said that China’s “aggressive behavior” in space – including the theft of intellectual property – was aimed at removing “space superiority” from the United States.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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