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China Launches Science Satellite

China on Monday launched a recoverable science experimental satellite into a preset orbit, atop a Long March 2 D carrier rocket from a newly-built launch tower at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province.

Space officials said the China-made satellite was launched at 3:20 p.m.. The officials said the satellite would remain in orbit for 18 days before returning to Earth.

Reports from Xi'an Satellite Monitor and Control Center say the satellite is orbiting as scheduled and its instruments are functioning normally.

It is the 18th recoverable satellite developed by China, and is technically much more advanced than the previous ones in terms of its performance.

The satellite is mainly for scientific research, land surveying, mapping and other scientific experiments, said space experts.

The data China gathered from the satellite will help promote the country's scientific and technological, economic and social development.

With a lift-off mass of 251 tons, the launch vehicle, 40.6 meters in length, was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Space Technology with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The launch is the 73rd by the country's Long March carrier rockets since 1970, and the 31st consecutive successful launch since October 1996.

Space experts said the success rate of Long March rockets was 91 percent.

Monday's launch came less than a month after China's first manned space flight on Oct. 15 and 16, and the Oct. 21 launch of an earth resources satellite developed in cooperation with Brazil and a smaller satellite.

(Xinhua News Agency November 3, 2003)

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