China launched a pair of satellites aboard a Long March 2D over the weekend. The launch was one of a pair conducted by China as the world’s eyes were transfixed on the launch of the historic NASA SpaceX Demo-2 mission.
The Long March 2D was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 08:53 UTC on May 31. The rocket carried a Gaofen remote sensing satellite and the fourth addition to the HEAD Aerospace Skywalker constellation.
Following the launch, Chinese state media outlets confirmed that both satellites had been successfully deployed into their designated orbits.
The Gaofen satellite launched aboard the rocket was the second of the country’s ninth iteration of the remote sensing satellite. The constellation is tasked with a number of civilian applications including aiding city planning, road network design, and in the determination of land ownership. However, many have speculated the constellation is also used for military purposes pointing to the Geofen’s similarities with the Yaogan type 2 reconnaissance satellite.
The second payload aboard Sunday’s Long March 2D launch was the HEAD-4 satellite. This is the fourth addition to a constellation Beijing-based HEAD Aerospace has ambitiously dubbed Skywalker. Once operational, the network of satellites will be utilised for a number of applications including ship and aircraft tracking, environmental monitoring, and asset supervision services.
The Long March 2D mission was one of a pair launched from Chinese shores over the weekend. Over 1,600 kilometers southeast of Jiuquan, a Long March 11 was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on May 29. Following a successful launch, the XJS G and H payloads were deployed into orbit.
Not much is known about the nature of the XJS spacecraft. The only details currently available come from China’s state-run Xinhua news agency which referred to the pair as “technology experiment” satellites.