September 29, 2011:
China recently launched a military communications satellite, the 5.7 ton Chinasat 1A. This bird follows an elliptical orbit (ranging from 35,500 kilometers to 192 kilometers). This is the tenth satellite launch for China this year, and nine of them were successful. China is steadily building up its network of military communications and reconnaissance satellites. While still small by American, or even Russian, standards, the Chinese birds keep getting launched, to replace worn out satellites and to expand what is already up there. China has launched seven reconnaissance satellites in the last five years. That's more than China launched in the three previous decades. There is a similar pattern with the even larger network of communications satellites in orbit.