Two days after launching XPNAV-1 on atop of Long March 11 CNSA managed to conduct another launch; this time under fairing of Long March 2D Yunhai-1 weather satellite was delivered to orbit.
Long March 2D started yesterday at 23:14 GMT from LC-43 launch pad 601 at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Due the lack of live broadcast there is no possibility to give any details about countdown or flight schedule. Delivering satellite to orbit was confirmed by USSTRATCOM by giving two new objects following numbers: 41857/2016-068A for object on 747 km x 798 km orbit with inclination of 98.36° and 41858/2016-068B for another positioned on orbit of 760 km x 787 km with inclination of 98.48°.
This time launch was even more mysterious than previous mission of Long March 11 with XPNAV-1. Not many details could be found regarding Yunhai-1 satellite. According to official announcements from Chinese news agencies it is weather satellite. It was developed by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and as was mentioned in the article by Xinhua News Agency:
“The satellite will be used for observation of atmospheric, marine and space environment, disaster prevention and mitigation, and scientific experiments.”
Of course just like during every more mysterious satellite launched by CNSA official version points that main purpose is civilian observation and scientific experiments. Observation of Atmospheric and marine environments could be easily used for tracking movement of warships or monitoring planes flying over Chinese territorial waters, however there is no confirmed information about this satellite
Long March 2D is reliable launch vehicle designed in the late eighties and early nineties and used since its maiden flight in 1992. It has been used also for military and commercial purposes. It is reliable launch vehicle with 100% success rate. It is based on two liquid fueled stages. First stage is equipped with four YF-21C engines (fueled with N2O4 and UDMH) with thrust at 2961.6 kN. It is long for 27.91 m with diameter at 3.35 m and weight at 182000 kg. Second stage is powered by combined YF-24C engine; one YF-22C as main engine and four YF-23C for stabilization. Thrust of YF-22C is at 742.04 kN and stabilizing thrust at 47.1 kN. Second stage has following dimensions: length at10.9 m with diameter at 3.35 m and weight at 52700 kg. Rocket offers SSO payload at 1300 kg and for LEO 3500 kg.