China Launches Classified Satellite in Rapid Launch Rate

China has continued its rapid launch rate by successfully launching a new classified satellite on Sunday. The Long March 6A rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China. The satellite, known as Yaogan 40, has a vague description and limited details available. However, it is said to be designed for collecting data on the electromagnetic environment and conducting related technological tests.

The Yaogan satellites launched by China are often considered to be reconnaissance craft for the country’s military. This latest launch follows closely behind two previous launches that successfully deployed four other Yaogan satellites. Yaogan 40 is believed to be significantly larger than the previously launched spacecraft due to the size of the rocket used.

The Long March 6A rocket stands at 164 feet tall and is China’s first rocket to feature a liquid-propellant core stage with solid rocket boosters. It is capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 9,900 pounds to a sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at an altitude of 430 miles. Satellites in SSO pass over the poles and can observe specific locations on Earth at the same time every day.

This mission marks the third launch of the Long March 6A rocket, which made its debut flight in March 2022. It is also the 42nd launch for China in 2023 and the 17th since July 9, indicating an increase in the country’s launch cadence. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) plans to conduct more than 60 launches this year, with contributions from China’s commercial launch companies.