China’s Galactic Energy Launches Ceres-1 Rocket for the Second Time

Artist’s conception of Ceres 1 launch vehicle on launch pad. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Chinese commercial launch provider Galactic Energy orbited five satellites on Tuesday, Nov. 7, in the second successful flight of the four-stage Ceres-1 booster. The launch took place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

The successful flight made Galactic Energy the first private Chinese company to successfully launch an orbital rocket for the second time. Payloads launched on this flight included:

Satellite: Baoyun
Purpose: Technology demonstration/Earth observation
Operator: Spacety

Satellite: Lize-1
Purpose: Technology demonstration
Operator: Spacety

Satellite: Golden Bauhinia-1 03
Purpose: Earth observation
Operator: ZeroG Lab/HKATG

Satellite: Golden Bauhinia-5
Purpose: Earth observation
Operator: Starwiz/HKATG

Satellite: Tianjin University-1
Purpose: Earth observation
Operator: Chang Guang Satellite Technology/Tianjin Yunyao Aerospace

Ceres-1, which is also known as Gushenxing-1, uses three solid-fuel stages topped by a fourth stage powered by hydrazine. The booster is capable of launching 350 kg to low Earth orbit or 230 kg to a 700-km high sun synchronous orbit.

Ceres-1 orbited the Tianqi 11 Internet of Things satellite during its maiden flight on Nov. 7, 2020.

China Launches Communications & Technology Demonstration Satellites

Kuaizhou-1A rocket lifts off on Nov. 25, 2021. (Credit: CASIC)

China placed communications and technology demonstration satellites into orbit in separate launches on Thursday and Friday. The successful missions marked the 46th and 47th launches by China in 2021, with 45 successes and two failures.

On Friday, a Long March 3B rocket launched the ChinaSat-1D communications satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The geosynchronous satellite will be used for military communications.

The spacecraft and the launch vehicle were build by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

On Thursday, a Kuaizhou-1A solid-fuel booster launched the Shiyan 11 satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The rocket’s builder, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., did not disclose the purpose of the technology demonstration spacecraft.

The Kuaizhou-1A small-satellite launcher has a record of 12 successes and one failure.

China Launches New Crew to Tiangong Space Station

Shenzhou 13 launches to Tiangong space station. (Credit: CGTN webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China launched the second three-member crew for a three-month stay aboard the Tiangong space station early Saturday morning local time.

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft carrying commander Zhai Zhigang and crewmates Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center aboard a Long March 2F booster at 12:23 a.m. (12:23 a.m. EDT Friday). The crew is scheduled to dock with the space station about 6.5 hours after launch.

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Three Chinese Astronauts on Way Home From 3 Month Stay Aboard Tiangong Space Station

The Shenzhou-12 capsule with the Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming aboard has already separated from the Tiangong space station. The flight home to a landing near the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center will reportedly take 30 hours.

The three astronauts were the first crew to occupy China’s first permanent space station. A new supply ship that will automatically dock with Tiangong has been placed on the launch pad for a flight later this month. A new crew will fly to the station in October.

iSpace Fails to Orbit Satellite for Second Time in 2021

The Chinese commercial launch provider iSpace failed to orbit a satellite with its Hyperbola-1 rocket for the second time in a row on Tuesday.

iSpace, which is also known as the Interstellar Glory Space Technology, said in a press release that the four-stage rocket worked as planned after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. However, the fairing failed to separate, so the unidentified satellite could not enter its planned 500 km high sun synchronous orbit.

“This launch further verified the correctness of the overall plan of the Hyperbola-1 rocket, obtained effective flight data, and accumulated valuable experience and lessons,” the company said.

It was the second failure in three launch attempts for the commercial company. On Feb. 1, a Hyperbola-1 rocket carrying multiple satellites veered off course early during its flight. The company attributed the failure to a falling piece of foam.

iSpace made history in July 2019 when its Hyperbola-1 rocket placed several payloads into space. It was the first successful launch by a private Chinese company.


Launch 2020: China’s Space Program Continued to Surge with a Number of Firsts

Long March 3B lifts off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. (Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Group)

China’s surging space program showed no sign of slowing down last year as it tied its own launch record and moved ahead with ambitious space missions and a set of new launchers.

China compiled a record of 35 successes and four failures in 2020. That matched the number of launch attempts made in 2018, a year that saw 38 successes and a single failure.

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Launch 2020: A Busy Year Filled with Firsts in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.

First in a series

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.

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Three Chinese Astronauts Launch for First Occupation of New Space Station

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three Chinese astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning local time for a three-month mission to the nation’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

The mission is commanded by Nie Haisheng, 56, who has logged more than 19 days in space on two previous flights. Nie, who is a major general in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, was joined by Liu Boming, 54, who will be flying to space for the second time, and rookie astronaut Tang Hongbo, 45.

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China to Launch Crew to First Permanent Space Station on Thursday

Shenzhou-12 crew members Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming. (Credit: CNSA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three astronauts will launch on Thursday morning local time aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft for a three-month long mission to China’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

Launch of the crew aboard a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is scheduled for June 17 at 0122 UTC (June 16 at 9:22 p.m. EDT).

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China Launches Oceanography Satellite

Long March 4B launches the Haiyang 2D oceanography satellite.

JIUQUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, China (CNSA PR) — At 12:03 on May 19, China used the Long March 4B carrier rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to successfully launch the Haiyang 2D satellite. The satellite successfully entered the scheduled orbit, and the mission was a complete success. 

Haiyang 2D is the third operational satellite of the National Space Infrastructure Ocean Power Satellite series. It will form my country’s Ocean Power Environment Satellite Constellation with Haiyang 2B and Haiyang 2C, and is mainly used to observe sea surface wind fields. Information such as sea surface height, effective wave height, gravity field and ocean circulation will provide strong support for sea condition forecasting, storm warning, precipitation forecasting, surface analysis and global climate change research.

The National Space Administration is responsible for the organization and implementation of the Haiyang 2D satellite project; the China Academy of Space Technology and Shanghai Aerospace Technology Research Institute under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation are responsible for the development of satellite systems and launch vehicle systems; the China Satellite Launch, Measurement and Control System Department is responsible for The launch site and measurement and control system are organized and implemented; the Ministry of Natural Resources is the user department, and the National Satellite Ocean Application Center is responsible for the construction of ground systems and application systems.

This mission is the 370th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.

Long March 4C Launches Yaogan-34 Remote Sensing Satellite

Long March 4C launches Yaogan-34 satellite on April 30, 2021.

On Friday, a Chinese Long March 4C booster launched the Yaogan-34 remote sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

Data from Yaogan-34 will be used for land surveys, land ownership confirmation, urban planning, crop yield estimates, road network design, and disaster prevention and mitigation.

Yaogan-34 was developed by the Eighth Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

This launch was the 368th of the Long March series of rockets.

Quarterly Launch Report: US in the Lead Thanks to SpaceX

A Falcon 9 lifts off with 60 Starlink satellites on March 11, 2021. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There were 27 orbital launch attempts with 26 successes and one failure during the first quarter of 2021. The United States accounted for nearly half the total with 13 launches behind nine flights by SpaceX.

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Long March 4C Launches Gaofen 12-02 Earth Observation Satellite

Long March 4C launches the Gaofen 12-02 satellite.

On Wednesday morning, the Long March 4C carrier rocket launched the Gaofen 12-02 Earth observation satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Gaofen 12-02 will be primarily used for land census, urban planning, land rights confirmation, road network design, crop yield estimation, and disaster prevention and mitigation.

Long March 4C was developed by the Eighth Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology Group. For multi-satellite launch missions, the booster can carry payloads weighing up to 3 metric tons to a 700-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit.

This flight 73rd launch of the Long March 4C rocket, and the 364th launch of the Long March series.

China Launches 3 Yaogan-31 Military Reconnaissance Satellites

Long March 4C lifts off with three Yaogan-31 reconnaissance satellites. (Credit: CASC)

JIUQUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, China (CASC PR) — On February 24 at 10:22 a.m., the Long March 4C carrier rocket was ignited and launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, and successfully sent three Yaogan-31 satellites into the scheduled orbit. The mission was a complete success.

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Chinese iSpace Hyperbola-1 Launch Fails

Planned booster families (Credit: i-space)

A Beijing Interstellar Glory (iSpace) Hyperbola-1 rocket failed after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Monday, marking a setback for the nominally private small-satellite launch provider.

“The rocket flew abnormally and the launch mission failed. The specific reasons are being further analyzed and investigated,” the company said in a statement. “Interstellar Glory set up a fault investigation committee and a fault review committee immediately to investigate and review the cause of the fault to reset the launch mission.”

Lost in the accident was a 6U CubeSat named Ark-2 (Fangzhou-2) built by the Beijing Space Ark Space Technology Co. The spacecraft was designed to test technologies to be used in Space Ark’s family of small- and medium-size recoverable satellites.

Hyperbola-1 is a four-stage, solid-fuel satellite launcher believed to be based on Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles. The booster can loft 300 kg into low Earth orbit at a reported cost of $5 million.

The failure came 18 months after iSpace became the first nominally private company to launch satellites into orbit. A Hyperbola-1 launched two satellites on July 25, 2019.