China Launches Reconnaissance Satellite

Long March 2D lifts off from Jiuquan on July 5, 2020. (Credit: CASC)

China launched the classified Shiyan-6 (02) reconnaissance satellite on Sunday, marking the country’s second successful launch in two days.

A Long March 2D rocket lofted the spacecraft into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said the satellite will be “mainly used to carry out space environment detection and related technical tests.” Western experts believe the description is used for reconnaissance satellites.

The launch was 338th of the Long March series of launch vehicles.

The successful flight came on the heels of another Chinese launch on Friday. A Long March 4B rocket launched the latest Gaofen civilian Earth imaging satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Northern China.

Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

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Updated Global Launch Schedule for May

Mars InSight lander (Credit: NASA)

There are some interesting launches among the nine orbital flights currently scheduled for May. Highlights include:

  • NASA’s Mars InSight lander with two deep-space CubeSats (May 5);
  • SpaceX’s first flight of a Falcon 9 Block 5 variant (NET May 7);
  • Two Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE Follow-On) satellites (May 19);
  • Orbital ATK’s Antares Cygnus ISS resupply mission (May 20);
  • China’s Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite with two deep-space microsats (TBD); and,
  • Rocket Lab’s first Electron commercial flight (TBD).

There have been 40 orbital launches through April, with 38 successes, one failure and one partial failure.

The schedule below is subject to change. Please check with our friends at Spaceflight Now for updates.
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