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Long March rocket launches Chinese research satellite

Posted: November 12, 2009

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China sent a Shijian research satellite into orbit Thursday, less than 24 hours after announcing the launch through state-run media outlets.

The Shijian 11-01 spacecraft lifted off on a Long March 2C rocket at 0245 GMT Thursday (9:45 p.m. EST Wednesday), or 10:45 a.m. Chinese time, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The launch originated from the Jiuquan launching base near the border of northern China's Inner Mongolia and Gansu provinces.

The two-stage Long March 2C climbed away from the snow-covered space center, emitting a tongue of flame from four nozzles of its hydrazine-fueled engine.

A few minutes later, the rocket's second stage shut down and deployed the Shijian 11-01 satellite in an orbit about 430 miles high with an inclination of 98.3 degrees, according to tracking data.

The satellite will be used for space science and engineering experiments, state media reported. No other details were released by Chinese officials.

Shijian means "practice" in Chinese, according to Xinhua.

Thursday's flight was the 61st space launch to reach orbit this year, and the fourth mission by Chinese rockets in 2009.

It was the first Chinese space launch since a mishap on the larger Long March 3B rocket left an Indonesian satellite in a lower-than-planned orbit in August, but Thursday's mission did not use parts suspected in that failure.