China sent a secret remote sensing satellite called Horus 1 into orbit on Friday evening (February 23) as the country begins ramping up its launch activity.
The Long March 2C rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Space Center in the Gobi Desert at 23:01 on Friday (04:01 GMT; 12:01 Beijing time on February 24). Insulation tiles fell off the rocket as it took to the skies before launching Horus 1 into orbit.
China’s top space contractor CASC announced (will open in a new tab) successful launch within an hour after launch. The Horus 1 satellite is designed for remote sensing and was produced by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology CASC. Neither CASC nor Chinese state media provided any further details.
Related: Latest news about China’s space program
(Image credit: Our space)
However, the Jiuquan mission control screen reporting the success of the mission provided the first clue. (will open in a new tab) that a satellite could be launched for Egypt. Egyptian media confirmed (will open in a new tab) it’s a day later, with quotes from the head of the Egyptian space agency.
Astronomer and space launch observer Jonathan McDowell noted (will open in a new tab) that Egypt had previously awarded a contract to CASC for the construction of remote sensing satellites. According to a 2022 report, the two countries have recently deepened their space cooperation. (will open in a new tab) from space in Africa.
The US Space Force’s space intelligence teams later tracked the satellite in a sun-synchronous orbit approximately 308 miles (496 kilometers) high.
Less than a day before, China launched the Zhongxing 26 (ChinaSat 26) communications satellite into geostationary orbit. The Long March 3B lifted off from Xichang in southwest China at 6:49 am EST (11:49 GMT or 19:49 Beijing time) on February 2. 23.
Zhongxing 26 is China’s first communications satellite with a bandwidth of over 100 gigabits per second (Gbps). (will open in a new tab) Chinese state media. The satellite will provide high-speed private network communications and satellite Internet services in China and the Asia-Pacific region in conjunction with the earlier Zhongxing 16 and 19 spacecraft.
Zhongxing 26 was the first launch in China in more than a month after a pause in activity when the country celebrated the New Year according to the traditional Chinese calendar. China plans to launch at least 200 spacecraft out of more than 60 planned launches in 2023.
Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).