A Chinese Long March 2C rocket launched with two earth observation satellites for Pakistan early this morning. The satellites are the first China has launched for Pakistan since the PAKSAT-1R communications satellites in August 2011.
The Long March 2C rocket launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China 03:56 GMT (11:56 local time). Following the launch, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) confirmed that the PRSS-1 satellite had deployed its solar arrays successfully and was operating nominally. Although there has been no official confirmation regarding the PakTES-1A satellite, it is also believed to be operating nominally.
The PRSS-1 was built by CAST and carries a high-resolution electro-optical payload. The satellite is capable of a ground resolution of up to four meters in multispectral mode and one meter in panchromatic mode. The imaging payload’s swathe width is approximately 60 kilometers.
Built by the Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO), Pakistan’s space agency, the PAKSAT-1R is a low to medium resolution earth observation satellite. The 300-kilogram satellite is the first earth observation satellite to be developed indigenously by Pakistan. Much of the satellite’s payload was, however, subcontracted to South Africa’s Space Advisory Company. An upgraded version of the satellite, PAKSAT-1B is currently under development and is expected to be launched within the next few years.
This morning’s launch is China’s nineteenth orbital mission of the year. The country is expected to launch the twentieth later today. Reports have indicated that a Long March 3A will liftoff from Xichang at 20:50 GMT with “a second-gen Beidou GNSS satellite”.