The National Space Administration of China said Saturday it will launch a satellite next Tuesday or Wednesday in cooperation with the European Space Agency (ESA).
The "equatorial" satellite, or Probe No. 1, is slated to blast off aboard a Long March 2C/SM carrier rocket followed by a "polar" satellite, which is expected to go up next year. The satellite and the rocket have been transported to the launching area, said the administration.
Probe No.1 will be the highest flying satellite China has ever launched. It will carry instruments provided by the ESA and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
The two satellites of the "Double Star" project will probe important areas of two magnetic fields of the Earth's atmosphere, comprising the Earth's magnetic field, ionosphere and middle-to-high layers of the atmosphere.
The system will be capable of probing, in three dimensions, the incidence and development of space storms, in a bid to find ways to improve safety for space activities.
The "Double Star" project is the first China-Europe joint satellite probe.
The two satellites in the project have been jointly designed by the Space Technology Institute of the China Aerospace Technology Corporation, CAS and eight European scientific research institutions. The carrier rocket was designed and built by the Research Institute of Carrier Rocket Technology under the China Aerospace Technology Corporation.
(Xinhua News Agency December 28, 2003)