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Second Olympic weather satellite launched
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China launched a second Olympic weather forecasting satellite, the Fengyun-3 (FY-3), Tuesday morning.

The satellite was launched on a Long March-4C carrier rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern Shanxi Province at 11:02 AM (Beijing Time).

It entered the preset orbit 27 minutes later.

The satellite was equipped with a dozen of advanced detectors such as the infrared scan actinograph and the microwave formatter.

It is able to carry out a three-dimensional, all-weather, multi-spectrum quantitative detection to acquire data from the ground surface, the ocean and the space, according to sources with the China National Space Administration.

Experts said the data collected by the satellite would not only facilitate weather forecast in China but also in other countries.

The 2,295-kilogram satellite will provide accurate and timely information about weather changes to facilitate more precise weather forecasts during the Beijing Olympic Games, said a China Meteorological Administration (CMA) official earlier.

The CMA official said the new satellite, with a bigger payload, would provide medium-range weather forecasts up to 10 to 15 days.

Zheng Guoguang, director of the CMA, said the FY-3 would work with the existing FY-2 to ensure timely weather forecast during the Olympics.

Both the satellite and the rocket are developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology affiliated to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

The launch was the 106th mission of China's Long March series of rockets since April 24, 1970, when a Long March-1 rocket successfully sent China's first satellite Dongfanghong-1 into the space.

China has launched eight meteorological satellites since research started in the 1970s. Its first Olympic weather forecasting satellite, the FY-2D, was launched towards the end of 2006.

The CMA has identified weather forecast services for the Olympic Games as "a priority" for this year as the country may face much more frequent adverse weather.

(Xinhua News Agency May 27, 2008)

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