China launches Gaofen-1 satellite

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China successfully sent high-definition earth observation satellite "Gaofen-1" into space at 12:13 p.m. Beijing time on Friday, announced the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND).

China launches the first Gaofen high-resolution imaging satellite at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on April. 26, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

China launches the first Gaofen high-resolution imaging satellite at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on April. 26, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

The mission was carried by a Long March-2D carrier rocket from northwest China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The rocket also carried three small satellites made by Ecuador, Argentina and Turkey as well as two satellite splitters from the Netherlands.

It is also the 19th launch of a Long March-2D, and the 175th of the Long March rocket series.

Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology, Gaofen-1 is the first of five or six satellites to be launched for the high-definition earth observation system (HDEOS) between 2011 and 2016.

The system could play an important role in disaster prevention and relief, climate change monitoring, geographical mapping, environment and resource surveying as well as precision agriculture.

The major users of the satellite will be the Ministry of Land and Resources, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Agriculture, said the SASTIND, adding that the launch is of great significance in improving China's satellite development level and increasing its degree of self-sufficiency in high-definition remote sensing data.

There are over 50 countries to date that own or operate earth observation satellites, and the data they collect is widely used for economic and social activities and in other science research fields.

High-definition earth observation technology is an important method to obtain information rapidly, a field that all major space powers are developing.

China set up the special project for the HDEOS development in 2006. It received government approval and was initiated in 2010. According to the project, the country will establish an earth observation system capable of great precision in time, space and spectral aspects, and integrate it with other measures to build an observation system with all-weather, round-the-clock and global coverage.

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