China has launched a second orbital mission just over 24 hours after the last deploying an experimental 5G communications satellite.
The Yinhe-1 communications satellite was launched aboard a Kuaizhou 1A from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 02:59 UTC this morning (Jan. 16). It was launched just over 24 hours after a Long March 2D mission lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 02:53 UTC the day before.
Following the launch of the Kuaizhou 1A from Jiuquan, the rocket’s upper stage successfully deployed the Yinhe-1 satellite into a low Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 1,156 kilometers.
The Yinhe-1 satellite is a demonstrator for technology that will be used for the Galaxy Space 5G satellite constellation. The constellation is expected to be comprised of 144 satellites that will be launched over the next three years. Once operational, the constellation will provide high-speed, low-latency communications services globally.
This morning’s launch is the third from Chinese shores in 2020. In comparison, the rest of the world combined has only managed a single launch. This frantic launch cadence is unlikely to slow down as the country’s national space apparatus expects to launch no fewer than 40 orbital missions in 2020. If the country is able to fulfill that ambitious target, it will launch orbital missions at a rate of more than three a month.