Chinese Long March 2D launches Venezuela’s VRSS-2 remote sensing satellite

China’s Long March-2D (Chang Zheng, CZ-2D) rocket has launched the Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite-2 (VRSS-2) into orbit on Monday.

The 942 kg remote sensing satellite was launched from the 603 Launch Platform of the LC43 Launch Complex of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 12:13 local time (04:13 UTC).

The VRSS-2, also known by Antonio José de Sucre, is the second remote sensing satellite built by China to Venezuela after the VRSS-1 Francis Miranda (2012-055A) launched on September 29, 2012, using a Long March-2 launch vehicle from Jiuquan.

The satellite is fitted with two deployable solar arrays and has a panchromatic camera with a resolution of 1 m and a multi-spectral imaging system with a resolution of 4 m. It also features shortwave infrared (SWIR) and long wave infrared (LWIR) imaging instruments.

The spacecraft is based on a CAST2000 satellite bus developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for China’s space programme. This platform is designed to host a number of payloads for various applications including navigation, remote sensing, and communications.

The launch marks the first use of the CZ-2 rocket after a mishap occurred in December 2016 with the first Gaojing mission. The failure caused major distruption to the Chinese launch schedule.

The contract for the launch was signed in October 2014 between China Great Wall Industry Cooperation (CGWIC), a subsidiary of CASC and Venezuela Ministry of People’s Power for Science, Technology and Intermediate Industries (MPPCTII) in Caracas, capital of Venezuela.

China has developed and launched the large VENESAT-1 “Simón Bolívar” telecommunications satellite, which was Venezuela’s first satellite, prior to the launch of VRSS-1.

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