Venezuela’s second satellite, dubbed the Miranda, was launched Saturday in optimum weather conditions from the Jiuquan space center in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, according to the Asian country’s state television network.
Blast off took place at 12:12 p.m. local time (0412 GMT) at the space station in a desert region along the ancient Silk Road, and was the second satellite that China has put into orbit for Venezuela after its first, the Simon Bolivar, was launched on Oct. 29, 2008 from the western base of Xichang.
The Miranda will serve as an observation platform used mainly for urban planning, military operations and controlling illegal mining and crops.
Propelled by Long March 2D rockets, the second Venezuelan satellite was launched successfully in the presence of representatives of Venezuela’s People’s Power Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation and the Bolivarian Space Activities Agency.
Also present at the base was Venezuela’s ambassador to Beijing, Rocio Maneiro, along with diplomats from other Latin American countries with missions in the Chinese capital, who congratulated her on the successful launch.
Three minutes after blast off, the satellite began the process of separation from the launch rocket, also without incident.
The launch was televised in Caracas on public TV screens to the ecstatic crowds, while President Hugo Chavez watched the launch in his office, accompanied by China’s ambassador to Venezuela and experts from the space program.
“We’re watching history in the making, the rebirth of history,” Chavez said from Miraflores Palace, seat of the government, adding that “Venezuela, together with China and many other countries, has taken its place in the forefront of history.”
The Venezuelan president recounted some of the Miranda’s functions, such as the control of crops and estimating their productivity, and went into detail about how the orbiter operates.
The launch came nine days before the presidential elections on Oct. 7.
Construction of the spacecraft was handled by the Chinese technology company CGWIC, an affiliate of the Aerospace Corporation of China, which also built the Simon Bolivar orbiter, dedicated to telecommunications.