China launches 40th orbital rocket mission of 2011, a new record: report

China’s set a new national record for rocket launches today (Oct. 27) with a satellite launch from the Gobi Desert.

The launch was China’s 40th mission of 2021 and delivered the Jilin-1 Gaofen 02F remote sensing satellite into orbit on a Kuaizhou-1A rocket. Its success brings China’s rocket launch rate beyond the country’s previous record of 39 first set in 2018 and tied in 2020, according to SpaceNews.

Jilin-1 Gaofen 02F is a commercial remote sensing satellite and launched on the solid-fueled Kuaizhou-1A from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. The liftoff took place at 2:19 a.m. EDT Wednesday (0619 GMT or or 2:19 p.m. local time) “and entered the planned orbit,” according to state news provider Xinhua.  Jilin-1 Gaofen 02F remote sensing satellite is joining a growing constellation of dozens of machines operated by Chang Guang Satellite.

Related: The latest news about China’s space program

A Chinese Kuaizhou-1A rocket launches the commercial Jilin-1 Gaofen 02F remote sensing satellite into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Oct. 27, 2021.

A Chinese Kuaizhou-1A rocket launches the commercial Jilin-1 Gaofen 02F remote sensing satellite into orbit from the  Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Oct. 27, 2021. (Image credit: CCTV)

China’s increased launch pace has also meant times when multiple missions lift off within hours or days for each other. A few examples include two missions that launched three hours apart in 2019, an effort that launched four satellites in two days in 2020, and then a series of three launches in four days earlier in 2021.

Kuaizhou-1A is operated by Expace, an entity under the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., according to SpaceNews. The launch, the 12th  of its type, was delayed temporarily due to a COVID-19 outbreak “close to the testing team,” SpaceNews noted, although this is the second Kuaizhou-1A launch in a month. (The rocket was grounded in 2020 following a launch problem.)

SpaceNews notes that 36 of the 40 launches in 2021 were performed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. A few days before Wednesday’s launch, the state-owned contractor also sent aloft a military satellite on a classified mission related to addressing orbital space junk.

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell is a contributing writer for Space.com who is one of the few Canadian journalists to report regularly on space exploration. She is the author or co-author of several books on space exploration. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Dakota in Space Studies, and an M.Sc. from the same department. She also holds a bachelor of journalism degree from Carleton University in Canada, where she began her space-writing career in 2004. Besides writing, Elizabeth teaches communications at the university and community college level, and for government training schools. To see her latest projects, follow Elizabeth on Twitter at @howellspace.

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