China Launches 41 Satellites Into Space In Single Mission Setting New Record

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China launched the Long March 2D rocket on Thursday with 41 satellites, setting a new national record for sending the most satellites into space in a single mission. The rocket blasted off at 1.30 pm (local time) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi province. It was the 476th flight mission of the Long March carrier rocket series and the first for the 2D model. According to the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight, the satellites will mainly provide commercial remote sensing services and related technology verification.

Among them, 36 are Jilin-1 satellites developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co Ltd in northeast China’s Jilin province. With this launch, the number of in-orbit Jilin-1 satellites reaches 108, forming China’s first commercial constellation of more than 100 remote-sensing satellites. Over the past eight years, each such satellite has shrunk in weight from 420 kilograms to 22 kilograms thanks to upgraded image sensors and advanced integrated chips, according to the satellite maker.

The remaining nine satellites are from other manufacturers, including two from the United States and one from Japan. The rocket also carried a communications satellite, a navigation satellite, and a satellite to test the operation of the launching system.

Besides the 41 satellites, a cargo container carrying supplies for the orbiting space station was also put into orbit on this mission. The container will be attached to the Tiangong, allowing the three astronauts to live and work more comfortably.

Quentin Parker, a space scientist at the University of Hong Kong, told CNN that this latest launch is important because it marks a milestone in China’s ambitious mission to become a space power. He says the space station is a “very sophisticated technological and scientific laboratory,” and the equipment it houses is often very delicate. “So you need people who know what they’re doing.”

The launch comes weeks after China launched a three-person crew for its orbiting space station to put astronauts on the Moon by 2025. The Shenzhou 16 crew of Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu are set to spend six months aboard the station undergoing upgrades.

The Shenzhou 16 astronauts have been assigned duties that include operating the orbiting outpost’s systems, conducting science experiments, and preparing for the arrival of the next batch of modules for the space station. Major-General Jing Haipeng, a veteran of three human-crewed space flights, will command the mission. He will be joined by Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, 36, who are members of the third batch of China’s astronauts. They will serve as a spacecraft engineer and a payload specialist, respectively. The latter will manage science experiments for the crew. Zhu and Gui are both expected to return to Earth in October.

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