China launched the second of a series of four scientific research satellites developed jointly with Brazil at 11:16 a.m. (Beijing Time) Tuesday 21st October, 2003, days after putting its first man into orbit. The satellite, which would study the Earth’s surface, is launched from a Long March IV rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in China’s northern province of Shanxi. China and Brazil launched their first Earth Resources Satellite, developed at a cost of $300 million, in October 1999 to gather information on the environment, agriculture, urban planning and water pollution. The second satellite, also aimed at collecting environment data, would be controlled by China for one and a half years and by Brazil for the remainder of its two-year life span.
Last week, China became just the third nation behind the United States and the former Soviet Union to successfully send a man into orbit. Its “Shenzhou V” capsule landed safely in Inner Mongolia on Thursday after circling the globe 14 times.
Brazil’s third attempt to become a space power ended in disaster in August, when an unmanned rocket designed to carry satellites exploded days before its planned takeoff, killing 21 people including top scientists and engineers. China’s satellite programme, which suffered two setbacks when rockets exploded on blast-off in the 1990s, has launched around 50 satellites, according to analysts’ estimates, and won a reputation for cheap launches.
Brazil and China are working on versions of a third and fourth satellite.