(ORDO NEWS) — China launched two rockets from different spaceports just six hours before the longest-running taikonaut mission successfully landed.
The China National Space Administration launched two missions on Friday (April 15) when a Long March 3B rocket lifted off from the Xichang Space Center carrying Zhongxing 6D communications satellites.
The launch took place at 12:00 GMT from a spaceport located in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan.
“The Zhongxing 6D satellite is a dedicated radio and television broadcasting satellite developed by the Fifth Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation,” China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) officials said in a statement.
The satellite will replace China’s older China Star 6A satellite and will provide high-definition video, radio and television programs in the South China Sea, Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands, CASC said.
Just over six hours later, at 18:16 GMT, a Long March 4C rocket launched a new atmospheric monitoring satellite from the Taiyuan Space Center into orbit.
The satellite uses a laser radar system, or lidar, and is designed to monitor air quality for “atmospheric monitoring, crop assessment, and agricultural disaster monitoring,” according to China’s state news service Xinhua.
Both launches took place on the eve of the successful landing of the Chinese spacecraft Shenzhou-13, which brought home three taikonauts from the Tianhe main module.
The landing, which took place at 03:56 GMT on April 16, completed a six-month mission to Tiangong for Shenzhou-13 taikonauts Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu.
The taikonauts spent 182 days aboard the Tianhe main module on a mission that included two spacewalks, including China’s first female taikonaut, and more than 20 scientific experiments and educational programs.
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