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Satellite Launch Aims to Help 2008 Olympics Weather Services
China is expected to launch a meteorological satellite into orbit Wednesday, the first of the five weather guardians to be sent into the skies before 2008, officials said Monday.

The FY-1D (FY for the initials for the Chinese words for "wind and cloud") polar orbiting satellite will be placed into space atop a Long March 4 rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in North China's Shanxi Province, said Zhang Guangwu, an official with the China Meteorological Administration (CMA).

FY-1D is the first of five meteorological satellites the CMA plans to launch into space sometime between 2002 and 2008, when the 29th Olympic Games are held in China, Zhang said.

The 950-kilogram satellite will replace the FY-1C, China's first operational polar orbiting meteorological satellite, which outlived its designed two-year life span by 12 months on Friday, he said.

Li Huang, deputy director of the CMA, said the new FY satellite would lay the ground work for China to make short-term and long-term weather forecasting and monitoring of the atmospheric environment.

The new meteorological satellite, along with four others to be launched in the years ahead, will lead the way for the country to offer comprehensive weather services for the 2008 Olympic Games, Li said.

Satellites in the pipeline include two FY-2 geostationary satellites to be launched in 2003 and 2006 and two FY-3 polar orbiting meteorological satellites that will be blasted into space in 2005 and 2008, according to the CMA sources.

The satellites will significantly bolster China's ability to forecast weather, monitor the environment and prevent and reduce disasters, according to Zhang.

The satellite to be launched Wednesday will monitor meteorological and hydrological disasters and the biosphere's environment, to serve meteorology, agriculture, forestry, water resources and the petroleum sectors, Zhang said.

Designed to orbit the earth for two years, FY-1D carries a 10-channel scanning radiometer for atmosphere and land and ocean observatories, according to Zhang.

The new satellite will keep an eye on the Yangtze, Yellow, Pearl and other rivers every morning, to help prevent floods and other disasters in those river valleys, he said.

It will also help monitor and prevent sandstorms, which engulf northern China at regular intervals.

China's first polar orbiting meteorological satellite, the FY-1A was launched in 1988. The FY-1B and FY-1C were launched in 1990 and 1999, respectively.

(China Daily May 14, 2002)

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