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China to Launch 2nd Satellite of 'Double Star Project'

China is scheduled to launch the second probe satellite of the "Double Star Project" by the end of July, said sources with the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.


The commission made the announcement Thursday, declaring the satellite and the carrier rocket have met the requirements for launching.


The satellite, or Probe No. 2, will be China's first civil satellite to be launched in 2004. It was jointly developed by a company under the China Aerospace Technology Corporation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and five European research institutes under the European Space Agency.


The "Double Star Project" is the first China-Europe joint satellite probe. It was designed to probe important areas of two magnetic fields of geospace which have never been covered by any satellites, comprising the earth's magnetic field, ionosphere and middle to high layers of atmosphere.


Compared with Probe No. 1, which was launched last December, Probe No. 2 is much improved in magnetic clarity.


Once Probe No. 2 is successfully launched, the two satellites would start human beings' first probe into earth space from six dimensions. The system would be capable of probing the incidence and development of catastrophic space weather.


The probe would provide scientific data for safety of space activities and protection of humans' living environment, said Sun Laiyan, director of the China National Space Administration.


"The successful launch of Probe No. 2 is key to the implementation of the Double Star Project and would prove to the world China's ability in developing satellites for scientific probe," said Sun.


The satellite is slated to blast off aboard a Long March 2C/SM carrier rocket. This will be the 77th launch of the Long March rocket.


(Xinhua News Agency June 24, 2004)


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