WASHINGTON — Two Chinese launches placed into orbit Earth observation and disaster monitoring satellites in less than 24 hours Nov. 20-21.

A Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Jiquan Satellite Launch Center in China at 2:12 a.m. EST on Nov. 20 and placed the Yaogan-24 satellite into orbit. The satellite, launched less than a week after Yaogan-23, is reported to be used for civil remote sensing and scientific experiments, but is widely perceived in the West to be a military reconnaissance satellite.

At 1:37 a.m. EST on Nov. 21, a Kuaizhou rocket placed the Kuaizhou-2 satellite into orbit after launching from Jiquan. The satellite is said by Chinese media to provide information on natural disasters. The Kuaizhou rocket is a small solid-fuel vehicle based on a ballistic missile.

Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the spacenews.com Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...