China, September 9, 2014: China has launched two satellites into orbit from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre, in north China’s Shanxi Province. The Yaogan-21 remote sensing satellite and the Tiantuo-2 satellite were designed and built by the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) and carried by a Long March-4B rocket.
The Yaogan-21 will be used for scientific experiments, surveying natural resources and crop yields and helping with disaster relief. The Tiantuo-2 is designed for small satellite experiments. According to the statement issued by NUDT, Tiantuo-2 is a small satellite weighing 67 kg, and is equipped with four video cameras. It can track and record moving targets and send the images back to the ground in real time. The major task of Tiantuo-2 is to test these technologies and prepare for the research and development of video-imaging satellites with higher resolution, the statement said.
However, several experts believe that the Yaogan Weixing series satellites are being used for military purposes. NASA Space Launch reports that the previous launch in this series was on August 9, when a Long March-4C launch vehicle orbited a satellite triplet during the Yaogan Weixing-20 mission.
Developed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST), Yaogan Weixing-21 is possibly the third electro-optical 2nd generation satellite equipped with a short-angle observation system and a Phoenix Eye-2 based bus.