First China-EU satellite launched

The first ever joint Chinese-European space mission was successfully launched on Tuesday.

    China's Long March 2C/SM carrier rocket being launched

    The satellite is designed to help track storms in space.

    Witnesses said the high-altitude Explorer 1 was sent into orbit by a Long March 2C/SM rocket at 3:06 am (1906 GMT on Monday) from the Xichang Satellite Launching Centre in Sichuan province. 

    Explorer 1 is set to fly further than any other satellite in China's space history, and will monitor parts of the two magnetic fields of the Earth's atmosphere in an attempt to better understand environmental changes in space, the programme's chief scientist Liu Zhenxing said.

    The mission marks the first time European experiments have been integrated with Chinese satellites and it is the first of two elements in the joint Sino-European "Double Star" project.

    Polar satellite

    A polar satellite is expected to go up within six months.

    China designed and assembled the satellite while eight scientific research institutes from Europe helped develop its probe equipment. 

    While a Sino-European first, the launch is also notable as the first time China has cooperated with developed countries in space exploration.

    The European Space Agency has partially funded Double Star, agreeing to $9.5 million cash injection in a July 2001 accord.

    More specifically, it will probe the Earth's magnetic field, ionosphere and middle to high layers of atmosphere. 

    The Double Star mission is not the only project between China and the ESA. 

    On 30 October, China agreed to participate in the Galileo satellite navigation system, a joint venture between the ESA and the European Union, and will contribute 200 million euros to the 3.3 billion euro project.

    Major plans

    China has lofty plans for its space programme following its successful launch this year of a man into orbit, becoming only the third country after Russia and the United States to achieve the feat.

    It has announced plans to send a spacecraft to orbit the moon within three years, and for an unmanned landing in 2010.

    Tuesday's launch was the 75th carried out successfully by China since 1970, and its 33rd consecutive successful launch since 1996.

    SOURCE: Agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    Double standards: 'Why aren't we all with Somalia?'

    More than 300 people died in Somalia but some are asking why there was less news coverage and sympathy on social media.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Kobe Steel: A scandal made in Japan

    Japan's third-largest steelmaker has admitted it faked data on parts used in cars, planes and trains.