China has just launched two missions less than 40 hours apart, sending three satellites into Earth orbit.
The action began on Saturday (September 24) at 18:55 ET (22:55 GMT; 06:55 Beijing time, September 25) when a Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket carrying the Shiyan-14 and Shiyan-15 spacecraft lifted into air. from the Taiyuan spaceport in northern China.
According to Chinese media reports, the Kuaizhou-1A, which is 65 feet (20 meters) high, has successfully delivered a pair of satellites into orbit, where they will perform various tasks.
Related: Latest news about China’s space program
(Image credit: CCTV)
“Shiyan-14 will be mainly used for conducting scientific experiments and testing new technologies, while Shiyan-15 will provide data in the field of land management, urban planning, disaster prevention and mitigation,” Xinhua state media reported. On Sunday (will open in a new tab) (September 25).
The launch was the 18th for the Kuaizhou-1A, operated by the Chinese company ExPace. However, this does not mean that Kuaizhou-1A is a private missile – at least not in the Western sense. ExPace is a subsidiary of the huge state corporation China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.
The second of two launches took place today (September 26) at 9:38 am EST (13:38 GMT; 21:38 Beijing time) from the Xichang Space Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province. The Long March 2D rocket successfully launched the Yaogan 36 remote sensing satellite into orbit, Xinhua reports. (will open in a new tab).
Xinhua did not provide details about the satellite, but we can probably assume that it is some kind of spy satellite. Western experts believe that the Yaogan satellites – and there are a lot of them, since China also launched several sets of the Yaogan 35 trio into orbit this year – collect data and images for both civilian and military purposes.
Mike Wall is the author of Out There (will open in a new tab)(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrations by Carl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or on facebook (will open in a new tab).