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Did China Just Launch SaudiSat-5B?

Saudi Arabian engineers work on the SaudiSAT-5b remote sensing satellite. Photograph courtesy of www.alriyadh.com.

The Chinese launch of what many believe to be a military reconnaissance satellite, the Ludikancha Weixing-3 (LKW-3) – or Land Surveying Satellite 3, on January 13, 2018, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre (JSLC) may have also included the SaudiSat-5B Earth observation satellite, according to a report in SpaceFlight Insider.

LKW-3 was launched aloft a Long March 2D space launch vehicle from Jiuquan at 7:10 GMT on January 13.

The rocket was also supposed to launch the SaudiSat-5B spacecraft for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a secondary payload.

Chinese and Saudi officials, however, have yet to confirm whether SaudiSat-5B was on board the Long March 2D that put the LKW-3 into orbit.

Saudi Arabia and China have established broad space cooperation agreements between them, with the most recent signed in January 2016.

Built by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) in Saudi Arabia, SaudiSat-5B is a hyperspectral Earth observation satellite that weighs approximately 200 kilograms.

 

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