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China launched two orbital missions from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center within six hours of each other, orbiting a total of seven satellites. The launches, using mobile pads, saw two Kuaizhou-1A rockets heading into space on Saturday at 2:55 UTC and 8:52 UTC.
The first Kuaizhou-1A rocket, serial number Y2, orbited the Jilin-1 Gaofen-2B remote sensing satellite for the Jilin-1 constellation.
…Six hours after the first launch, and as was expected by the navigational warnings previously published, a second Kuaizhou-1A launch vehicle, serial number Y12, had already been displaced to the launch site, but from a different pad. Analysis of the images available from the second launch seems to indicate that launch took place from a location within the Launch Complex 16 usually used for the Long March-6 launches. Ignition came at 8:52UTC.
The three-stage launch vehicle orbited six satellites.
This achievement is a very big deal. China has demonstrated the ability to launch and then launch again quickly with this military-based mobile launch system. This not only enhances their commercial value, it tells us they have developed a military capability able to put payloads into orbit at almost a moment’s notice.
The leaders in the 2019 launch race:
7 Europe (Arianespace)
6 Rocket Lab
China now leads the U.S. 29 to 25 in the national rankings.