Chinese rocket firm Smart Dragon 1 has managed to successfully launch its first rocket last weekend and send out three commercial satellites into orbit, thereby boosting domestic competition. The four stage rocket developed by China Rocket Co. Ltd, a commercial spinoff of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) moved off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The debut of this 19.5 meter high rocket weighing 23.1 metric tons was expected. There was limited prior indication of exact timing but the launch carried forward the Qiansheng-1 communication and navigation satellite into orbit along with 2 others and put them into 529/560 km orbits.
Beijing Qiansheng Exploration Technology Co. Ltd, which is a private satellite development company set up in 2017 made the Qiansheng-1 which is a milestone for the firm’s original plan of setting up a constellation of 24 satellites to provide communication and remote sensing services. The satellite is carrying a CMOS optical imager weighing 11 kilograms along with a spatial resolution of 2 meters that is developed by China Academy of Space Technology which is part of CASC. The smaller satellites were called Tianqi-2 and Xingshidai-5 built by Beijing Gaoke Tech Co. Ltd, Beijing Weina Star Tech along with Chengdu GAT Co. Ltd.
The first payload was an Internet of Things verification satellite while a second one is part of 38 satellite constellation and in the making of these two small firms namely ADA-Space and Mino Space were also involved. This launch is another attempt by Chinese govt. to have greater public-private partnership to facilitate transfer of technology for promotion of small satellite launches. This is the first successful orbital launch by private firm iSpace. China Rocket which is a commercial division of CALT that was established in 2016 and has been responsible for successful launch of several traditional Chinese Long March vehicles. The firm stated that Smart Dragon-1’s creation began last year during Feb and it can lift 200 kilograms payload.
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