A CERES 1 Y5 rocket blasts off at 1:04 pm on Monday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China's Gobi Desert. (WANG JIANGBO/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Long March 7A and CERES 1 deploy total of eight satellites into orbit
China launched two carrier rockets on Monday, its first space missions for 2023.
A 60.1-meter Long March 7A rocket blasted off at 6 am at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province and soon deployed the Shijian 23 and Shiyan 22A and 22B experimental satellites into their orbits, according to a news release from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the nation's leading space contractor.
The Shijian 23 is tasked with conducting in-orbit scientific experiments and technology demonstrations while the Shiyan 22A and 22B will be used to monitor and survey the space environment and verify new technologies.
This was the fifth launch of the Long March 7A model. The Shijian 23 is the heaviest spacecraft the rocket has ever carried.
The Long March 7A has a liftoff weight of 573 metric tons and a core-stage diameter of 3.35 meters. It is capable of placing a 7-ton spacecraft into geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The rocket is tasked with sending satellites into high-altitude orbits such as the geosynchronous transfer and inclined geosynchronous orbits. It can also be used to carry out missions to the moon, Mars or asteroids.
The launch marked the first space activity for China in 2023, and the 459th flight of the Long March rocket family.
On Monday afternoon, Galactic Energy, a private rocket maker in Beijing, carried out the fifth flight mission of its CERES 1 rocket to deploy five small satellites into orbit.
The CERES 1 Y5 rocket blasted off at 1:04 pm at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China's Gobi Desert and placed the satellites into a preset orbit, the company said in a news release.
Galactic Energy has achieved five successive successes in orbital launch, far outperforming other private competitors. The five CERES 1 flights have placed a total of 19 satellites into space.
There are a number of private rocket companies in China but only Galactic Energy and i-Space, another Beijing-based private enterprise, have succeeded in orbital missions, which refers to spaceflight by a carrier rocket that deploys payloads into an orbit in outer space.
Before CERES 1, the SQX 1 rocket developed by i-Space launched two satellites and several experimental payloads into space from the Jiuquan center in July 2019.The model's maiden flight also marked the first orbital mission by a privately built rocket in China. However, all of the next three SQX 1 launches failed due to technical malfunctions.
Last year, China conducted 64 rocket launches, a national record. Among them, 53 were made by Long March rockets from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
The nation plans to carry out around 60 launch missions this year.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp has more than 50 launch missions planned in 2023, according to its annual work report.
The planned spaceflights include manned and robotic missions to the newly assembled Tiangong space station and the maiden flight of the Long March 6C carrier rocket, according to the report distributed at the company's annual research and production work conference in Beijing last week.
Another State-owned space enterprise, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, plans 10 spaceflights using its Kuaizhou 1A and Kuaizhou 11 solid-propellant rockets.
If the plan becomes a reality, 2023 will become the busiest year for the Kuaizhou family, company sources said.