China has launched a mysterious spy satellite that “monitors land, crop yields and natural disasters” but could also gather military intelligence, according to some analysts.
The Yaogan 33 satellite lifted off alongside China’s Long March 4C rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Sept. This was the 35th successful launch by the East Asian space power this year.
The US Space Force has captured two new objects in orbit associated with the launch of Jiuquan: the new satellite in one orbit and the upper stage of Long March 4C orbiting in a lower orbit. Little is known about Yaogan 33, a new classified series of remote sensing satellites. China says the spacecraft will be used for “scientific experiments, census of national land resources, harvest estimation and disaster prevention”.
Western space analysts suggest, however, that the Yaogan series satellites serve both civilian and military users in China. Last month, China launched new batches of Yaogan 35 satellites, which can be used for Earth observation tasks or signal intelligence gathering.
The Nasaspaceflight website reported that the previous Series 33 satellite, Yaogan 33, launched in late 2020, was likely a space-fixed synthetic aperture radar (SAR) system that could image through clouds and at night. An attempt to launch what could have been the first satellite in the series ended in failure in 2019, SpaceNews reports.
China has carried out 35 launches so far in 2022, with the country’s top space contractor, CASC. The country’s goal is to make more than 50 launches this year. By way of comparison, the United States has already carried out 50 space incursions until the 5th of September.
Source: With Agencies