China has surpassed the country’s national record for orbital launches set in 2016 with their 23rd launch of 2018. The launch successfully deployed two Beidou navigation satellites.
The Long March 3B rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on August 24 at 11:52 UTC (07:52 EDT). Following the launch, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed the satellites had been successfully deployed and were operating nominally under their own power.
The launch of the two satellites is the third in service of the country’s Beidou (Big Dipper) navigation system in less than two months. In total, the country has deployed six satellites aboard three Long March 3B rockets in less than sixty days.
CASC to launch 35 orbital missions in 2018
Despite already surpassing the national record this year, the country is not set to easy their launch schedule. CASC has confirmed that they plan to launch at least 35 orbital missiosn this year with no fewer than 12 launches remaining. Additionally, several of the country’s commercial startups including Landspace and OneSpace are expected to launch missions before the end of the year. It is therefore likely, that the country could surpass more than 40 orbital launches in a single year.