China launches X-ray telescope into space to investigate black holes
(FILE) A Long March 2-D rocket with the Dark Matter Particle Explorer (DAMPE) Satellite on board, launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, 17 December 2015. EPA/QU JINGLIANG CHINA OUT
Beijing, Jun 15 (efe-epa).- China on Thursday sent into orbit its first X-ray space telescope which will study phenomena including black holes, pulsars and gamma-ray explosions, state media reported.
Propelled by a Long March 4B rocket, the Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) was launched at 11am from the Jiuquan space base in the Gobi Desert in northwestern China, according to official news agency Xinhua.
Weighing 2.5 tonnes, the HXMT will rotate in an orbit situated 550 kilometers (342 miles) above the earth to explore the behavior of black holes and pulsars, which are rotating neutron stars with strong magnetic fields.
This is the second telescope sent into space by China following the launch of the DAMPE dark matter satellite in December 2015.
The launches are part of the scientific satellite program developed by China in parallel with its lunar exploration plan and manned space missions, which include establishing a permanent orbital station.
China is also developing other scientific satellites including the Einstein Probe to survey a range of space phenomena including short-lived X-ray events, and the SMILE mission to investigate the interaction between the Earth's magnetosphere and solar winds.