With Space X mission of launching rockets more than 60 times in 2022 and conducting three launches within 36 hours span last week, China is also continuing its quest to carry out more than 50 orbital launches this year with a pair of missions lifting off within just over 24 hours of each other.
The First Launch
The first launch of the duo was a Kuaizhou-1A rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert in northwest China using a transport erector launcher (TEL) at 09:08 p.m. CST on June 21.
The light-lift solid rocket sent the Tianxing 1 satellite into a near-polar orbit, but with a relatively low perigee and apogee (nearest and farthest points from Earth in its orbit) of 173 miles and 181 miles (278 and 291 kilometers), respectively.
Little is known about Tianxing 1 and whether or not it can substantially raise its own orbit. The satellite was developed by the Institute of Mechanics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and was described vaguely by Chinese media as to be used for “space environment detection.”
The Second Launch
NEW VIDEO: China blasts off Long March 2D to put Yaogan-35-02 satellites into orbit. Breathtaking views of the rocket soaring above the lush mountains. This brings the total to 21 orbital flights in 2022. #China #ChinaSpace #CZ2D #LongMarch2D WATCH: https://t.co/JWWhYcKIr6 pic.twitter.com/33PNfpK8KX— PointOrView (@PointOrView) June 23, 2022
The second launch of the duo was carried out by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which is the country’s main space contractor and operator of the Long March rocket families.
CASC carried out its launch a little over 24 hours later, with a Long March 2D rocket lifting off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwest of the country at 09:22 p.m. CST on June 22. Three Yaogan 35 (02 group) satellites were sent into orbits with an average altitude of roughly 310 miles (500 km) with an inclination of 35 degrees.
Chinese state media outlet Xinhua reported that the trio of Yaogan sats would be mainly used to “conduct science experiments, land resource surveys, yield estimation of agricultural products and disaster prevention and reduction.”
However, outside of China, it is believed that Yaogan satellites are for military purposes.
China’s Plan To Conduct 50 Launches in 2022
These launches were China’s 21st and 22nd of the year. CASC alone plans more than 50 missions across 2022, including six missions to complete the country’s Tiangong space station.