Yaogan-30-08 | Long March 2C

Lift Off Time
(Subject to change)
May 6, 2021 – 18:07 UTC
May 7, 2021 – 02:07 BJT
Mission Name
Yaogan-30-08, three Chinese reconnaissance satellites
Launch Provider
(What rocket company is launching it?)
China Aerospace Science Corporation (CASC)
(Who’s paying for this?)
Chinese Ministry of National Defense
Long March 2C/E
Launch Location
LC-3, SLS-2, Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China
Payload mass
Unknown, a maximum of 3,850 kg (8,500 lbs) based on orbital parameters
Where are the satellites going?
~610 km low-Earth orbit (LEO), ~35.0°
Will they be attempting to recover the first stage?
No, this is not a capability of the CASC
Where will the first stage land?
It will crash on land in North-West China
Will they be attempting to recover the fairings?
No, this is not a capability of CASC
Are these fairings new?
How’s the weather looking?
No information is available
This will be the:
55th launch of a Long March 2C
12th Chinese launch of 2021
40th orbital launch attempt of 2021
Where to watch
If available, a livestream will be listed here

What’s all this mean?

The China Aerospace Science Corporation will launch 3 Yaogan-30-08 reconnaissance satellites into a 610 km low-Earth orbit. The trio of satellites will be launched on the Long March 2C rocket, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in China.

Yaogan Satellites

As with most reconnaissance satellites, very few specifics of the actual satellites are known. However, the Chinese government has released some information about the Yaogan constellation. Currently, there are 76 Yaogan satellites in a variety of orbits, ranging from 35° to 100° and orbital altitudes from 480 km circular orbits to 1,200 km eccentric orbits. The Yaogan-30-08 mission is a follow up to the Yaogan-30-01, Yaogan-30-02, Yaogan-30-03, Yaogan-30-04 missions, Yaogan-30-05, Yaogan-30-06, and Yaogan-30-07 which launched on September 29, 2017, November 24, 2017, December 25, 2017, July 25, 2019, March 24, 2020, and October 26, 2020 respectively.

The Yaogan constellation is a Chinese reconnaissance constellation. According to Chinese media, the satellites are used for scientific experimentation, surveying land, assessing crop yields, and monitoring disasters; the trio of satellites being launched on the Yaogan-30-08 mission will primarily be used for tracking and monitoring fishing vessels. However, the satellites are likely also used for reconnaissance purposes.

Yaogan-31-02 and Yaogan-31-03 and Yaogan-31-04
An artist rendering of a Yaogan-30-08 satellite. (Credit: newsnation)

While in the same constellation, not all Yaogan satellites use the same instrumentation. Some of the Yaogan satellites are equipped with a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR). SAR uses the motion of the radar to create a 2D image, or a 3D reconstruction, with a higher resolution than if the sensor was stationary. It is unknown if Yaogan-30-08 satellites will use SAR, or if they will use other technology that is classified.

Long March 2C

The Long March 2C is a two stage medium-lift launch vehicle, with an optional third stage, derived from China’s Long March 2B vehicle. It is able to put up to 3,850 kg into low-Earth orbit, and up to 1,250 kg into geostationary transfer obit (GTO).

The Long March 2C launching from the Xichang satellite launch center (credit: Xinhua)

First Stage

The first stage has 4 open cycle YF-21C engines. Each engine runs on dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH), producing 740 kN of thrust each, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 260 seconds. Overall, the first stage produces 2,960 kN of thrust and carries 182,000 kg of propellent. The first stage is 25.72 meters tall, and 3.35 meters in diameter.

Second Stage

The second stage runs on a single YF-24E engine, which contains 1 main YF-22E engine for thrust, and 4 YF-23C attitude control thrusters. The main engine produces 816 kN of thrust and the attitude control thrusters each produce 47 kN, and both run on N2O4 and UDMH. The main engine’s ISP is ~300 seconds, and the attitude control thrusters have an ISP of 289 seconds. The second stage is 7.75 meters tall, 3.35 meters in diameter, and carries 162,700 kg of propellent.

Optional Third Stage

The third stage contains one 125 kg solid motor that produces 10.78 kN of thrust. The motor uses Hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB).

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