CAS Space Launches 26 Satellites, A Chinese National Record10th Jun 2023
Chinese commercial rocket firm CAS Space set a new national record by launching 26 satellites into Low Earth Orbit. The firm completed their second orbital mission on June 2nd, after launching the payload aboard their solid-propelled space plane: Lijian-1. The payload surpasses the previous record of 22 satellites that was launched on the larger Chinese rocket: ‘Long March 8’ back in February, 2022.
As a commercial spin off of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS), CAS Space plans to further develop solid, reusable liquid propellant rockets for commercial services and tourism. To fund their future plans, CAS Space reported that $87 million was secured in C round funding in April this year.
The Lijian-1 Launch
Lijian-1 – also known as ZK-1A or Kinetica-1 – is a four-stage solid-propellant launch vehicle that recently marked the second successful launch for CAS so far. The rocket was developed in the Nansha District in Guangzhou, which is home to a range of new space technology development facilities, and uses SP70 solid rocket motors developed by CASC – China’s state-owned space contractor. Lijian-1’s first launch – in July 2022 – made it the largest operational solid launch vehicle built in China, until it was eclipsed by Jielong-3’s sea launch in December 2022.
What Was Onboard Lijian-1?
Chinese state media reported that the classified Shiyan-24A and Shiyan-24B experimental satellites were on board. They are believed to be used for testing new technology and payloads for Chinese space systems.
The remaining payload is purported to be technological demonstrations and commercial remote-sensing satellites. This included: the Xi’an Hangtou-8 satellite for Xi’an Aerospace Investment, and ADA Space and Spacety’s Xinshidai-16 and Tianyi-26 commercial satellites. Fucheng-1, an interferometric imaging synthetic aperture radar (SAR) remote-sensing satellite, was also deployed to join the six-satellite Mianyang constellation.
China’s Move To Ramp Up Space Launches
The Lijian-1 launch was China’s 22nd orbital mission in 2023 and there are currently plans for 60 more CASC launches this year. Commercial payloads are also set to increase with a further 20 orbital missions on the horizon, adding to the growing list of Chinese space launches.