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Chinese weather satellite successfully launched

Posted: September 23, 2013

China launched a weather satellite Monday into a speedy perch over Earth's poles, beginning a three-year mission to provide Chinese meteorological authorities with imagery and data for incorporation into weather forecasts.

The Fengyun 3C spacecraft blasted off at 0307 GMT Monday (11:07 p.m. EDT Sunday) aboard a Long March 4C rocket from the Taiyuan launch base in northern China's Shanxi province. Liftoff was at 11:07 a.m. Beijing time.

The three-stage liquid-fueled launcher was supposed to boost the 4,850-pound satellite to a sun-synchronous orbit approximately 540 miles above Earth.

The state-run Xinhua news agency reported the launch was successful. Chinese media did not announce the launch ahead of time.

The Fengyun 3C spacecraft is the third in China's second-generation series of polar-orbiting weather satellites. Its launch came after nearly identical satellites were put in orbit in 2008 and 2010.

Fengyun 3C will make global three-dimensional measurements of Earth's atmosphere, returning data on cloud cover, temperatures, moisture, snow and ice cover, rainfall, ozone, and the sun's influence on the climate, according to a website maintained by the China Meteorological Administration.

Observations from the satellite will feed data parameters into numerical medium-range computer models, monitor climate changes, supply information for Chinese military weather forecasts, and help officials respond to natural disasters, the website said.

Monday's launch was the seventh Chinese space launch of the year, following previous missions including the manned flight of Shenzhou 10 and launches of secretive military satellites.