Wed. Sep 27th, 2023
China Launches Three New Reconnaissance Satellites

China has continued its string of reconnaissance satellite launches with the successful deployment of three new Yaogan-39 spacecraft. The satellites were launched into orbit by a hypergolic Long March 2D rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China. The launch marked the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s 30th successful launch of the year and the country’s 43rd orbital mission of 2023.

Little information is publicly available about the Yaogan series of satellites, as they are classified and believed to have military applications. Western analysts speculate that the satellites carry a variety of sensors, including optical and synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and are used for remote sensing and reconnaissance purposes.

The Yaogan series serves different roles, including electromagnetic environment detection and related technical tests. Some groups of satellites, such as Yaogan-31, are comparable to the U.S. Naval Ocean Surveillance System (NOSS) satellite triplets, while others provide near constant surveillance over areas of security concern close to China.

The growth of China’s remote sensing capabilities has raised concerns in the United States, prompting the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission to request an unclassified report on China’s remote sensing technologies and applications. This report aims to examine Chinese investments in U.S. advanced remote sensor companies and assess China’s use and development of advanced remote sensors for military purposes.

China’s commercial sector is also investing in satellite technology. Changguang Satellite Technology plans to expand its Jilin-1 constellation, which focuses on optical and SAR satellites. The expansion is in response to the increasing use of commercial satellite imagery, particularly in the Ukraine.

Additionally, China has launched several classified Ludikancha series satellites, which are high-resolution Earth observation satellites with military applications.

China’s recent launch of three new Yaogan-39 reconnaissance satellites highlights the country’s expanding space capabilities in both military and commercial sectors.