Classified Chinese satellite releases small object into orbit

Classified Chinese satellite releases small object into orbit
Classified Chinese satellite releases small object into orbit

A classified Chinese technology verification satellite that launched earlier this month has apparently launched an object into orbit alongside it.

China spear (opens in a new tab) Shijian 23 on one long walk 7A rocket on January 8, sending the satellite into an initial transfer orbit to reach its planned geostationary orbit (GEO), about 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above Earth.

The data disseminated by the US space forceThe 18th Space Defense Squadron (18 SDS), which focuses on space domain awareness, shows that Shijian 23 reached geosynchronous orbit around January 15, drifting to its predicted position in the GEO belt. Cataloging by the 18 SDS further revealed that Shijian 23 released an object on January 16.

Related: The latest news on the Chinese space program

18 SDS lists the object as an “AKM” or apogee kick motor, which is used in some launches to help a satellite reach its destination orbit. However, it is possible that the object is a sub-satellite, possibly to be used with the parent satellite for in-orbit testing.

The Chinese satellite Shijian 21, which spear in 2021 also reached GEO and released a satellite, which was then used for testing. Shijian 21 then docked (opens in a new tab) with China’s defunct Beidou-2 G2 navigation and positioning satellite and towed it into an orbit away from the active spacecraft in GEO.

The geostationary belt is very useful for a range of applications, as the satellites orbiting it move in sync with the Earth’s rotation, making them appear stationary in the sky above the planet. This orbit is therefore very useful for providing constant communications, meteorological data and surveillance over selected areas. Removing dead satellites and debris from this belt will help keep the orbit available for use.

What China has planned for Shijian 23, however, has not been revealed. The satellite was concisely described as “mainly used for scientific experiments and technical checks” by Chinese state media. Continuous tracking can provide clues to satellite activities.

To further complicate matters, the fact that early post-launch reports from China’s leading space contractor and state media Xinhua listed two additional satellites (opens in a new tab), Shiyan 22A and 22B, as payloads aboard the launch. A updated story (opens in a new tab) from Xinhua a day later omitted the reference to this last pair.

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. chinese satellite classified free small object orbit

. Classified Chinese satellite releases small object orbit

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