China launched its Long March 2D rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 6:51 am EST on Thursday, October 14, carrying the Chinese H-alpha Solar Explorer (CHASE) and 10 other satellites into orbit during its 37th orbital launch of the year, Space News reported.

CHASE is the country's first solar observatory equipped with a solar telescope that will observe the deep-red H-Alpha line of the solar spectrum that will help scientists in observing and studying solar flares.

 China Successfully Sends First Solar Observatory, 10 Satellites on Its 37th Orbital Launch of the Year
(Photo : Wikimedia Commons)
Long March 2F and Shenzhou-12 being rolled out to launch site

China's First Solar Observatory

According to Chinese state media CGTN, China's first solar observatory with a Chinese name of Xihe from the sun goddess in ancient Chinese mythology weighs 110lbs (550kg) and has a design life of three years and will make observations until the upcoming solar maximum in 2025. It will orbit the Earth in a fixed position relative to the Sun to observe, collect data, and create solar images.

CHASE satellite chief commander Chen Jianxin said that the solar observatory has an ultra-high performance in direction pointing and maintaining stability to aim well and hit the target.

Experts said that the launch of the first solar observatory of China marks the beginning of the country's solar exploration from space as they have already built a network of ground-based solar observations. They added that the solar observatory would help scientists better study solar flares, which threaten satellites and navigation systems.

The solar observatory plays a significant role in ensuring the safety of any spacecraft and astronauts because data gathered will help them avoid solar flares so space experiments and studies can be completed safely, says Chinese Academy of Sciences academician Fang Cheng.

Earth Observation and Data Center of the China National Space Administration director Zhao Jian added that the new Chinese satellite would function differently from other observation satellites launched by other countries because it will observe the H-Alpha spectrum of the sun.

The country has also announced its plans to launch the Advanced Space-born Solar Observatory (ASO-S) in 2022 as a follow-up mission after CHASE.

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10 Other Satellites Sent Into Orbit

Space News reported that CHASE was sent into orbit with 10 other satellites, including an orbital atmospheric density detection experimental satellite called MD-1. There was also the commercial meteorological detection constellation experimental satellite called QX-1.

Both satellites were developed by Shenzin Aerospace Dongfangfong Satellite Co., Ltd. owned by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) that sent other satellites on the flight, such as Tianshu-1, the Golden Bauhinia N2 satellite, MOTS, Tianyuan-1, and Head-2 E and Head-2 F for the HEAD Aerospace Group. CASC is aiming to launch over 40 times this year.

Insight Position Digital Intelligence Technology Service Co., Ltd. has also sent a test satellite called Tianshu-1 for low Earth orbit navigation enhancement.

The last pair of satellites, namely SSS-1 Micro Satellite and SSS-2A Cube Satellite, was sent for a student small satellite project of the Asia-Pacific Space Corporation Organization (APSCO)

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