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China, France launch climate change-watching satellite

Long March 2C takes off from the Jiuquan launch centre in the Gobi Ddesert RFI / Simon Rozé

The first Franco-Chinese satellite was launched into orbit early on Monday morning. It will study the ocean surface, help predict cyclones and improve understanding of climate change.

A Long March 2C carrier rocket, China's first-ever international cooperation satellite according to French space agency boss Jean-Yves Le Gall, took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in north-west China's Gobi Desert at 0043 GMT, according to China's State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence.

The 650-kilogramme China-France Oceanography Satellite (CFOSAT) will allow climate scientists to better understand interactions between oceans and the atmosphere.

It is fitted with two radars - the French-made SWIM spectrometer, which will measure the direction and the wavelength of waves, and China's SCAT, a scatterometer that will analyse the force and direction of winds.

The data will be collected and analysed in both countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron and China's Xi Jinping marked the launch with a phone call, according to Xinhua news agency.

The project was launched in 2007.

China is investing million of euros in space programmes and hopes to have a space station carrying humans by 2022, as well as sending astronauts to the Moon.

France hopes to cooperate with the People's Republic on exploration missions in the future.