China launched a high-resolution satellite for the protection of its maritime rights as the South China Sea dispute continues to simmer. The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging satellite was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in northern Shanxi province on Wednesday. Gaofen-3, China’s first SAR imaging satellite, will be used for disaster warning, weather forecasting, water resource assessments, and the protection of maritime rights, said state-run news agency Xinhua. China is locked in a maritime dispute with its neighbors over the South China Sea, which is believed to have large reserves of oil and gas. Also Read - ISRO Spy Satellite to launch on December 11 along with 9 other satellitesAlso Read - India puts into orbit radar imaging satellite RISAT-2B
The Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Taiwan have also staked claims in the waters. Though an UN-appointed Permanent Court of arbitration at The Hague rejected China’s claims over the South China Sea in June, Beijing rejected the ruling, calling it “illegal”. With 12 imaging modes, the high-definition observation satellite is capable of taking wide pictures of the Earth and photographing detailed scenarios of specific areas.
Gaofen-3 is also China’s first low orbit remote sensing satellite that has a lifespan of eight years. It is able to provide high-definition remote sensing data for its users over a long period of time. The Gaofen-3 and the Long March 4C rocket were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, under the guidance of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.