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Report: China-Launched Earth-Imaging Satellites Reach Below-Planned Orbits Due to Rocket Failure

Two recently launched Chinese commercial Earth-imaging satellites are currently orbiting below their intended altitude due to a suspected rocket mishap and might re-enter the atmosphere within months, Spaceflight Now reported Wednesday.

Stephen Clark writes the SuperView 1 satellites currently fly in “egg-shaped” orbits that range from 133 to 325 miles above the planet at an inclination of approximately 98 degrees because of issues with the Long March 2D booster during launch.

The Earth-observing spacecraft were designed to fly in a near-circular orbit at an altitude of 300 miles to perform an eight-year mission to collect Earth imagery for government-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology‘s Siwei Star subsidiary, the report said.

The report added Beijing Space View Technology has exclusive rights to distribute and sell color images from the SuperView 1 satellites globally to support agricultural, defense and intelligence, mapping, oil and gas exploration, maritime and urban planning activities.

Clark writes Siwei Star intends to launch two more SuperView satellites in mid-2017 in support of efforts to have a constellation of more than 24 Earth observation platforms in orbit by 2022.

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