China Launches 6 Satellites on 2 Rockets in 3 Hours

China conducted two launches within three hours on Wednesday, placing a commercial Earth observation satellite and five military surveillance satellites into orbit.

A four-stage Kuaizhou 1A booster lifted off with the Jilin 1 Gaofen 02A satellite at 11:40 a.m. Beijing time from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China.

The commercial imaging satellite, owned by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd., is designed to return high-definition video and images for civilian and military users.

The spacecraft joins 13 other Jilin-1 satellites launched by Chang Guang, which is a commercial spin-off of the Chinese Academy of Science’s Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics.

Expace, a commercial subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., manages Kuaizhou 1A launches. The booster is believed to be based on a Chinese ballistic missile.

Three hours after Kuaizhou 1 lifted off, a liquid-fuel Long March 6 booster launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center with five Ningxia 1 military remote sensing satellites.

The Xinhua news agency reported that the satellites “are part of a commercial satellite project invested by the Ningxia Jingui Information Technology Co., Ltd.”

China Launches Satellites, ULA & Rocket Lab Flights Set

Atlas V on launch pad. (Credit: ULA)

China launched a Long March 11 rocket with six satellites aboard on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The booster orbited a pair of Jilin-1 Earth imaging satellites for the Chang Guang Satellite company as well as four secondary payloads.

ULA is set to launch an Atlas V rocket with an U.S. Air Force Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) GEO early warning satellite later today. The flight is scheduled to lift off at 7:48 p.m. from Cape Canaveral in Florida.  ULA scrubbed the launch on Thursday do to a problem with ground equipment.

The webcast is available at www.ulalaunch.com and www.youtube.com/unitedlaunchalliance

The delay has postponed an attempt by SpaceX to conduct a static fire of the Falcon Heavy’s first-stage engines on a nearby launch pad. The test had been planned for Friday, but the next earliest opportunity is Saturday providing the Atlas V launches tonight.

On Saturday, Rocket Lab will open a launch window for the second flight of its Electron rocket. The first four-hour window opens on January 20 at 2:30 p.m. NZDT (0130 a.m. GMT/8:30 p.m. EST on Friday).

Rocket Lab has reserved nine days with identical four-hour windows for this launch attempt. The booster is carrying CubeSats for Planet and Spire.

Check Rocket Lab’s website for information about the webcast.