TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Ministry of National Defense (MND) said Thursday (Nov. 9) evening a People's Liberation Army (PLA) Long March rocket carrying a communications satellite had been detected over Taiwan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ) at 7:23 p.m..
The MND said the rocket was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's Sichuan Province. The defense ministry pointed out that the rocket's flight altitude over Taiwan reached above the atmosphere.
The defense ministry said it monitored the situation and took precautionary measures to ensure air defense safety.
According to China's state-run mouthpiece Xinhua, a Long March-3B carried a Chinasat-6E (Zhongxing-6E) communications satellite into orbit. The satellite is designed for radio and television broadcasting and is meant to be a replacement for the aging ChinaSat-6B satellite, which was launched in July 2007, reported Space News.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) at 8:22 p.m. confirmed that the satellite had been deployed into a predetermined orbit. It said the satellite's broadcasting resources will cover China, Southeast Asia, Australia, Central Asia, and South Asia as part of the space-based phase of Beijing's Belt and Road Initiative and construction of its "digital China" project.
Although the 56-meter-tall Long March 3B has launched many satellites into geosynchronous transfer orbit, Space News reported that it uses as a "highly toxic propellant combination of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide," and has been plagued with falling debris incidents in Chinese villages.
On Oct. 5, the PLA launched a Long March 2D rocket that carried a Yaogan-39 "remote sensing satellite" into orbit. Although China released few details about the Yaogan series, Western observers assess that these satellites are for "military purposes."
19:23(UTC+8) today, PRC satellite launch w/Long March carrier vehicle from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The flight path passes our ADIZ. We monitored the vehicle's activity and are ready to respond if necessary.— 國防部 Ministry of National Defense, R.O.C. 〔錯誤字元無法儲存〕〔錯誤字元無法儲存〕 (@MoNDefense) November 9, 2023