Kuaizhou-1A Rocket Launches Tianxing-1 Satellite

The Kuaizhou-1A rocket made a successful return to flight on Wednesday, launching the Tianxing-1 test satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Chinese media said satellite’s purpose is to research the space environment. Officials released no other details about the spacecraft, which was built by the China Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Mechanics.

Kuaizhou-1A failed during its previous launch in December, destroying the GeeSAT-1A and 1B navigation augmentation system satellite. The solid-fuel rocket, which can launch 200 kg into a Sun-synchronous orbit, has a record of 13 successes and two failures.

Chinese Astronauts Launch, Dock with Space Station

Long March-2F launches the Shenzhou-14 crew to the Tiangong space station. (Credit: Su Dong)

Three Chinese astronauts arrived at the nation’s first permanent space station on Sunday, beginning a busy six-month mission during which initial assembly of the orbital facility will be completed.

Astronauts Cai Xuzhe, Chen Dong and Liu Yang. (Credit: CASC)

Chinese astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe lifted off aboard the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft at 10:44 a.m. local time (10:44 p.m. EDT on Saturday) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The Long March-2F rocket placed the crew transport into orbit, where they automatically docked with the Tiangong station seven hours after liftoff.

Chinese space station after assembly. (Credit: CASC)

The crew will be on board when the Wentian and Mengtian science modules are launched later this year. The flights will complete the initial assembly of the t-shaped station. The Shenzhou-15 crew will then launch, expanding the station contingent to 6 astronauts, Chinese officials said.

This launch is the 423rd launch of the Long March series of launch vehicles.

China to Launch New Crew to Space Station on Sunday

Astronauts Cai Xuzhe, Chen Dong and Liu Yang. (Credit: CASC)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — On June 4, the press conference of the Shenzhou 14 manned flight mission announced that, after the research and decision of the General Headquarters of the space station phase flight mission, the aim was to use the Long March 2F carrier rocket to launch the Shenzhou 14 at 10:44 [02:44 UTC Sunday/10:44 p.m. EDT on Saturday] on June 5. The three astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe will carry out the Shenzhou 14 manned mission, with Chen Dong as the commander.

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China Rolls Out Long March-2F Rocket for Crew Launch to Space Station

The Long March-2F rocket that will launch the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft is rolled out to the launch pad. (Credit: China Manned Space Engineering Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China has rolled out the Long March-2F rocket that it will use to send a new three-member crew of astronauts to the nation’s space station. The launch of the as-yet unidentified astronauts aboard Shenzhou-14 could take place from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China as early as Sunday, June 5.

The crew will spend a busy six months in space during which time China will complete initial assembly of the station. The Wentian laboratory module will be launched in July to join the Tianhe core module. The Mengtian laboratory module is scheduled for launch in October.

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China’s iSpace Suffers Third Consecutive Failure of Hyperbola-1 Rocket

Friday the 13th was an unlucky day for Chinese launch provider iSpace, which saw its Hyperbola-1 rocket suffer its third straight launch failure.

The Xinhua news agency reported the Hyperbola-1 rocket suffered “abnormal performance” after lifting off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 3:09 p.m. Beijing time (3:09 a.m. EDT). The cause of the failure is under investigation, the agency said.

The  Jilin-1 Mofang-01A Earth observation satellite was lost in the failure. It was a replacement for a satellite lost when a Hyperbola 1 booster failed in August 2021. The rocket also failed to orbit unidentified payloads in February 2021.

The four-stage, solid-fuel booster is now one for four in launches since a successful maiden flight in July 2019 for which iSpace became the first private Chinese company to orbit a satellite.

China Launches Two Rockets on Sunday

China launched two rockets with 23 satellite aboard on Sunday, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

A Long March 4C launched the L-SAR 01B Earth observation satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The synthetic aperture radar satellite will provide data for land resources use, mapping, forestry, and disaster prevention and relief efforts.

L-SAR 01B joins its twin satellite, L-SAR 01A, which was launched on Jan. 26, Xinhua reported. The spacecraft were built by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. 

A Long March 8 rocket set a new domestic record for the number of spacecraft launched when it orbited 22 satellites from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan Province, Xinhiua reported.

The spacecraft will be used for commercial remote sensing, marine environment monitoring, forest fire protection and disaster mitigation. The satellites were placed in sun synchronous orbit.

It was the second launch of the Long March 8 rocket. The booster placed five satellites into orbit during its maiden flight on Dec. 22, 2020.

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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