Lifting off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China, at 0243 GMT, 9 October, a CALT Long March 2C rocket carried two YAOGAN 32-01 units into LEO. This launch saw the first usage of a new “Yuanzheng-1S” (Y-1S) upper stage, which has reportedly increased its capacity to 700km LEO from 1.2 tonnes to 2 tonnes. The stage is also reportedly capable of conducting multiple burns to manoeuvre satellites into different orbits.
The satellites, although supposedly launched to conduct a remote sensing mission for the Ministry of Agriculture, are reported by the Xinhua, state-news agency, to be used for “electromagnetic surveys other related technology tests”. It is suspected by Western nations that the YAOGAN WEIXING designation is used to hide a more military nature for many Chinese satellites.