China launched a new remote sensing satellite on May 22 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. Launch of Yaogan Weixing-33 took place at 22:49 from the LC9 launch complex using a Long March 4C – Chang Zheng 4C – rocket.
As usual, Chinese media is referring to the new satellite as a new remote sensing bird that will be used for scientific experiments, land survey, crop yield assessment, and disaster monitoring’. But as was the case in the last launches of the Yaogan Weixing series, western analysts believe this class of satellites is used for military purposes.
Looking at the available NOTAM navigational warnings it is likely that the new satellite is the second of the Yaogan-29 series, a new type of SAR reconnaissance satellite developed by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST). Yaogan Weixing-29 was launched on November 26, 2015 from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center using a Long March-4C launch vehicle. This 3-axis stabilized satellites operate on 615 km orbit with an 97.8 degree inclination.
The Yaogan Weixing series of satellites first appeared in 2006 with the launch of Yaogan Wixing-1. The satellite was launched on April 27 and was the first on the Jianbing-5 military series.