Probe No. 2, the second satellite of a Sino-European joint space probe program, known as the Double Star Project, was successfully launched at the Taiyuan Satellite Launching Center, in north China, at 15:05 pm Sunday.
The polar orbiting satellite entered into the preset orbit 30 minutes after the launching, with a perigee of 681 kilometers, an apogee of 38,278 kilometers, and a gradient of 90 degrees, according to the Xi'an Satellite Monitoring and Control Center, in northwest China.
The Probe No. 2 and the Probe No. 1, which went up into the orbit on December 30, 2003, will form an innovative, constellation-like and independent probing system. The duo are expected to operate in space areas that have not been covered by other international satellites, so far.
The Double Star Project is sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in collaboration of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The Double Star Project and a four-satellite program of the ESA will form a six-point space probe network, which will be the first of its kind in the world. China and the ESA will share the results of the space research network.
The Probe No. 2, with a similar structure of the Probe No. 1, is 343 kilometers in weight and has an endurance of 12 months.
As same as the Probe No. 1, the launching of the Probe No. 2 was also accomplished by a Long March 2C/SM rocket carrier.
It is the 77th launching of the Long March rocket carriers and the 35th successful projection of the Long March rocket carriers in succession since October 1996.
Li Tieying, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislature, and Li Jinai, member of the Central Military Commission and director of the General Armament Department of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA), observed the event on the spot.
(Xinhua News Agency July 26, 2004)