LifestyleChina's Exciting First Launch of 2024: 4 Small Weather Satellites Sent into...

China’s Exciting First Launch of 2024: 4 Small Weather Satellites Sent into Orbit (video)

China has completed its first space launch of the year, and it’s expected to be an exciting one!

The Kuaizhou 1A solid rocket took off from a transport erector launcher at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert at 6:20 a.m. EST (1120 GMT and 7:20 p.m. Beijing time) on Jan. 5.

The rocket was carrying four Tianmu-1 weather satellites, which are numbered 15-18 and joined two other sets of the same satellites that launched separately last year.

a white rocket launches into a dark night sky.

The spacecraft were developed by a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation and have entered near-polar orbits with an altitude of around 323 miles (520 kilometers).

The recent trio of Tianmu-1 launches are part of an initiative to build a constellation to provide commercial weather data, furthering China’s space achievements.

The Kuaizhou 1A was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation and is operated by Expace, its launch spinoff. The successful cluster launches provide a boost to Expace as it seeks to establish itself in an apparently crowded Chinese commercial launch market.

China conducted a national record 67 launches in 2023, and it will be interesting to see what 2024 has in store, with major missions planned including ones to the Tiangong space station and an unprecedented lunar far side sample-return mission.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Stay tuned for more breaking space news, the latest updates on rocket launches, skywatching events and more!

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