Space: September 16, 2001


The Zi-Yuan-2 satellite launched by China last September (and claimed to be a remote sensing satellite for internal use) has now been identified as a photo-recon satellite of a new design. The ZY-2's orbit is radically different from ZY-1 (launched in Oct 99, and apparently the domestic sensing satellite China claimed it was). ZY-2 is now in a nearly circular orbit at 490 kilometers, and is behaving like a spy satellite that is interested in more than just China. Unlike other Chinese photo-spy satellites which dropped film in canisters, the ZY-2 is sending regular digital signals to its control stations.--Stephen V Cole




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