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Tech & Science Coronavirus isn't stopping China from launching rockets

04:50  22 february  2020
04:50  22 february  2020 Source:   space.com

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China resumed satellite launches Wednesday (Feb. 19) amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, lofting a Long March 2D rocket in the country's first launch since the Chinese New Year. The Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the country's Sichuan province

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China's Long March 2D rocket lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Feb. 19, 2020, carrying four Xin Jishu Shiyan test satellites to orbit. © Provided by Space China's Long March 2D rocket lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Feb. 19, 2020, carrying four Xin Jishu Shiyan test satellites to orbit.

China resumed satellite launches Wednesday (Feb. 19) amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, lofting a Long March 2D rocket in the country's first launch since the Chinese New Year.

The Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the country's Sichuan province at 4:07 p.m. EST (2107 GMT, 5:07 a.m. local time), and the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) confirmed the launch roughly 40 minutes after the rocket left Earth, SpaceNews reported.

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Aboard the rocket were four Xin Jishu Shiyan test satellites called XJS-C, XJS-D, XJS-E and XJS-F, all of which went into their planned orbits. The satellites, which were built by CASC subsidiaries, will test new technologies for Earth observations and communicating with one another, CASC said, according to SpaceNews.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak originated in the Wuhan area and has affected infected tens of thousands of people worldwide, sparking some quarantine measures in China and other countries.

The launch took place just a few days after Wu Yansheng, chairman of CASC, examined Chinese launch preparation facilities to see how the workers were handling coronavirus containment procedures, such as wearing masks, SpaceNews reported. 

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Coronavirus isn ' t stopping China from launching rockets . Sign Up for e-mail newsletters. Get breaking space news and the latest updates on rocket launches , skywatching events and more!

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The workers expressed some concerns about food supply, but overall, CASC was deemed successful in following measures such as adjusting workshifts and providing reserves of antiseptics, state-sponsored news media outlet Space China said in a report translated into English using translation software. Senior space leadership (including people from CASC) also met on Feb. 13 to discuss lessons learned from the coronavirus outbreak and how to protect workers in the future, Space China said in a separate translated report.

CASC has launched four missions in 2020 and is planning more than 40 this year. In 2019, China performed some rocket launches at the same facility with as little as 6 hours' separation between launches; that's a very fast turnaround time compared with the usual launch pace in other countries.

With Johnson under fire, blame game begins over virus crisis .
For the first time since becoming prime minister, Boris Johnson woke to universally negative newspaper headlines on Thursday morning — including from some titles usually supportive of his leadership. After the government disclosed that just 2,000 National Health Service staff in England had been tested for coronavirus, the Daily Mail declared it was the “Statistic that humbles ministers”. Even the Daily Telegraph, where the prime minister spent most of his journalism career, splashed on virus testing, with the blunt headline “Questions without answers”.

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