Chinese Kuaizhou-1A rocket launches 4th mission in 18 days (video) (Image Credit: Space.com)
China sent a classified experimental satellite into orbit last week with yet another launch of the Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket.
A Kuaizhou-1A lifted off from a transport erector launcher at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Jan. 10 at 10:52 p.m. EST (0352 GMT and 11:52 a.m. Beijing time on Jan. 11).
Little is known about Tianxing-1 (02). The satellite was described by the state media outlet Xinhua as to be used for experiments such as “space environment detection.” The previous Tianxing-1 satellite, launched in June 2022, was likewise given only a short description. Its classified nature suggests it is at least partially for military customers.
Tianxing-1 (02) was developed by the Innovation Academy for Microsatellites of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (IAMCAS).
The mission was the fourth Kuaizhou-1A launch inside three weeks. The rocket, operated by Expace and developed by the state-owned defense giant China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASIC), launched three sets of four Tianmu-1 weather satellites across late December to early January.
The small, solid-fueled launcher can carry a payload of 440 pounds (200 kilograms) to a 345-mile-high (700 kilometers) sun-synchronous orbit.
The launch was also China’s third of 2024 and was followed shortly after by the sea platform-based debut launch of the commercial Gravity-1 solid rocket.