On 31 July 2018, at 11am Beijing time (GMT+8), China launched Gaofen-11 (GF-11), a high-resolution optical satellite for earth observation of China and the Belt and Road countries. The launch took place using the Long March 4B, a three-stage rocket that can put 4,200kg into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 2,800kg into the Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO), from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi Province.
GF-11 was developed by five of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s (CASC) subsidiary institutions, including the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), which has developed the CAST2000 satellite platform used for numerous international commercial contracts.
The satellite launched yesterday will be used for a variety of purposes, including urban planning, road-network planning, crop yield estimation, and disaster prevention and mitigation. According to CASC, GF-11 has a resolution of less than one metre.
The Gaofen family of high-resolution Earth Observation satellites are part of the China High-definition Earth Observation System (CHEOS) meant for civilian purposes, with the first satellite, Gaofen-1, having been launched in 2013. So far, 12 Gaofen satellites have been launched, including GF-6 in June 2018, and three additional satellites from the Gaofen-1 series launched in April 2018. Gaofen-7 is also expected to be launched this year.