China launches Gaofen 11-03 high resolution satellite – Know Key Details

China launched its 3rd Gaofen 11 reconnaissance satellite with an optical resolution comparable to top US spy satellites. Know key details.

Created On: Nov 23, 2021 15:56 IST
China launches Gaofen 11-03 high resolution satellite; Image: Xinhua
China launches Gaofen 11-03 high resolution satellite; Image: Xinhua

China launched its 3rd Gaofen 11 reconnaissance satellite on November 19, 2021, on a Long March 4B rocket (also known as Chang Zheng 4B) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China. The Gaofen 11 (03) satellite with an optical resolution comparable to top US spy satellites is an addition to China’s set of classified satellites. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) announced the success of the launch after the successful insertion of the Gaofen-11 (03) satellite into a 247 by 694-km altitude orbit inclined by 97.5 degrees. The launch marked the 44th launch by China in 2021 and the 387th mission of the Long March series carrier rockets.

Also read: China launches first solar observation satellite – Know all details

China launched its 3rd Gaofen 11 reconnaissance satellite – Key Details

The Gaofen 11 (03) is the third in a series of high-resolution optical imaging Gaofen 11 satellites. The first in the series of Gaofen 11 namely Gaofen 11 (01) was launched in July 2016 followed by Gaofen 11 (02) in September 2020.

The Gaofen 11 (03) satellite will operate in sun-synchronous orbits. It will be primarily used for land surveys, land rights confirmation, road network design, city planning, crop yield estimation, and disaster prevention and mitigation.

Gaofen is operated by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). The CASC has developed the Gaofen-11 (03) reconnaissance satellite and its data transmission and relay subsystems.

Experts state that the Gaofen-11 satellite has the capability to send back optical imagery at about 10 centimeters resolution. The Gaofen-11 satellite has been claimed comparable to the classified capabilities of the US Keyhole reconnaissance satellite system.

As per the Xi’an Branch of China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), the three Gaofen-11 satellites will be networked together. This means the Gaofen-11 (03) satellite will circularize its orbit to match the roughly 495-km altitudes shared by the earlier Gaofen satellites in the orbit launched in 2018 and 2020.

Also read: Astronaut Wang Yaping becomes first Chinese woman to walk in space

Also read: China becomes first to land spacecraft on 'dark' side of moon

About Gaofen satellites

Gaofen satellites are Chinese high-resolution Earth Observation Satellites. The Gaofen-1 was launched in 2013 on a Long-March-2D rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in a sun-synchronous orbit. Thereafter, more than 12 Gaofen satellites were launched in the Gaofen series.

The Gaofen satellites form the civilian China High-resolution Earth Observation System (CHEOS). These comprise varying optical, multispectral, hyperspectral and synthetic aperture radar satellites.

Also read: China launches first three men crew to its new space station in five years

Also read: China successfully launches Tianhe space station core module into orbit

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