BEIJING, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- In the latest effort in China's feverish pace of space exploration activities, it has successfully launched a secret military payload, authorities said.
It was the fifth launch in less than two months for China and the second launching in that time period of a clandestine Yaogan reconnaissance satellite, SPACE.com reported Thursday.
China's recent rush to space includes a mysterious orbital rendezvous, an upcoming lunar probe and preparations for continued human missions.
Wednesday's blastoff of a Long March 2D rocket from the Jiuquan space center in the desert of northwestern China placed Yaogan 11 and two smaller satellites on a path nearly 400 miles above Earth.
The Yaogan 11 will conduct scientific experiments, survey land resources, estimate crop yields and contribute to natural disaster response efforts, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The Yaogan satellites are believed to provide the Chinese military with high-resolution reconnaissance imagery, experts say.
Next year, China plans to send its Tiangong 1 module to space.
A series of unmanned and manned Shenzhou capsules will visit the module, forming a modest space station for long-duration research missions by Chinese astronauts, SPACE.com said.