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China launches new meteorological satellite

A Long March-3B carrier rocket blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province, June 3, 2021. (GOU WENBIN / XINHUA)

XICHANG – China sent a new meteorological satellite into planned orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province on Thursday morning.

The satellite, Fengyun-4B (FY-4B), was launched by a Long March-3B rocket at 12:17 am (Beijing Time). It was the 372nd flight mission of the Long March rocket series, said the launch center.

As the first of China's new-generation meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit, the FY-4B will be used in the fields of weather analysis and forecasting, and environmental and disaster monitoring

As the first of China's new-generation meteorological satellites in geostationary orbit, the FY-4B will be used in the fields of weather analysis and forecasting, and environmental and disaster monitoring.

The satellite and rocket were respectively developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. Both belong to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

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The China Meteorological Administration is responsible for the construction and operation of the satellite's ground application system.

The FY-4B will form a network with FY-4A, which was launched into space in December 2016, to provide more accurate and faster weather data.

Compared with its predecessor, the FY-4B has a longer lifespan of seven years and an improved observing capability. It can increase the network efficiency of image formation and significantly reduce the update period.

"The new satellite will help forecasters observe the dynamics of severe weather more flexibly, making it easier to identify and capture strong convective weather such as short-time heavy rainfall and thunderstorms," said Zhang Zhiqing, deputy chief designer of the Fengyun satellite project.

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As early as 1969, China began receiving, processing and using foreign meteorological satellite data. The country has also been developing its own meteorological satellite system.

Over the past 50 years, China's meteorological services have made huge progress. The country has so far launched a total of 18 Fengyun satellites, with eight currently in orbit and more scheduled for launch in five years.

China has provided Fengyun satellite data and products to 118 countries and regions, said Zhuang Guotai, head of the China Meteorological Administration.