Yaogan-32-02 | Long March 2C / YZ-1S

Lift Off Time
November 03, 2021 07:43 UTC | 15:43 BJT
Mission Name
Yaogan-32-02, three Chinese reconnaissance satellites
Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)
China Aerospace Science Corporation (CASC)
(Who paid for this?)
Chinese Ministry of National Defense
Long March 2C/YZ-1S
Launch Location
Site 9401, SLS-2, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China
Payload mass
Unknown, a maximum of 3,850 kg (8,500 lbs) based on orbital parameters
Where did the satellites go?
Unknown low-Earth orbit (LEO)
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
No, recovery is not a capability of the Long March 2C
Where did the first stage land?
It crashed on land in mainland China
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
No, recovery is not a capability of the Long March 2C
Were these fairings new?
This was the:
59th launch of a Long March 2C
106th orbital launch attempt of 2021
Where to watch
If available, a replay will be listed here

How Did It Go?

The China Aerospace Science Corporation (CASC) successfully launched 3 Yaogan-32-02 reconnaissance satellites into a low-Earth orbit. The trio of satellites launched on the Long March 2C rocket, from Jiuquan 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 79 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 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-32-02 mission will primarily be used for tracking and monitoring fishing vessels. However, the satellites are likely also used for reconnaissance purposes.

Yaogan-31-02, Yaogan-31-03, Yaogan-31-04, Yaogan-32-02
An artist rendering of a Yaogan-32-02 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-32-02 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).

long march 2, takeoff, Xichang
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 propellant. 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 propellant.

Third stage

The third stage, the Yuanzheng, is a restartable upper stage. The variant used on the Long March 2C is designated YZ-1S. The Yuanzheng allows launch vehicles to deploy their payloads directly into high energy orbits, like medium-Earth orbit (MEO) and geosynchronous orbit (GSO). The stage features one YF-50D engine, which like the first and second stages runs UDMH and N2O4. It provides 6.5 kN of thrust and has an ISP of 315.5 seconds. The stage can perform at least two burns within its lifespan of 6.5 hours.

long march 2, third stage
The YZ-1S upper stage (Credit: CALT)

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