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China launches two satellites

Long March II-C. A file photo.

BEIJING (PTI): China launched two satellites, days after successfully docking two space modules in outer space for the first time as part of its ambitious plans to build its own space station by 2020.

The satellites, named Chuangxin 1-03 and Shiyan Satellite 4, were launched into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province by the Long March 2D carrier rocket on Sunday.

Chuangxin 1-03 will be used to collect and relay hydrological and meteorological data, information on water conservancy, power supply and disaster relief from monitoring stations, official news agency Xinhua reported.

Shiyan Satellite 4, developed by the Chinese Research Institute of Space Technology, is China's fourth technology experiment satellite and will be used for experimenting with space technologies and environment probe.

Chinese officials had earlier said that the country plans to launch 25 satellites by the end of 2011.

The launch followed the first docking and re-docking of space modules Shenzhou-8, launched on November 1, which docked with the Tiangong-1 module on November 3 in an orbit 343-km above Earth.

The Shenzhou-8 module was brought to Beijing by train following its return to earth on Thursday.

Tiangong-1, which has been in orbit since its launch on September 29, is awaiting docking with Snezhou-9 and 10, expected to be launched next year where one of the two flights will be manned.

The success of the docking procedure made China the third country in the world, after the United States and Russia, to master the technique.

The experiments are part of China's efforts to build a space station of its own by 2020 to rival, Mir, the Russian space station being manned by Russian and US astronauts.


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