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China’s Jielong Successfully Accomplishes Its Maiden Flight

Jielong 1, a smallsat launcher reached orbit on Saturday after its 1st flight from Northwest China became a success. Named Smart Dragon 1 or Jielong 1, this rocket delivered 3 smallsats into orbit after launching from Jiuquan base in Northwest China, as per a CALT announcement. The launch took place at around 0411 GMT and was done using a road-mobile transport vehicle.4 rocket motors started firing simultaneously as Jielong-1 flew out of Jiuquan. CALT stated that all 3 satellite payloads had been placed in orbit successfully. Chinese officials praised this mission’s success.

One microsat was owned by QET Co Ltd. It weighed 140 pounds. The spacecraft has Earth-imaging instruments, which have a resolution less than 2 meters. It could eventually lead to more Earth-observing sats from Qiansheng. Xingshidai 5, a satellite owned by CGAT was onboard this rocket as well, along with Tianqi 2, owned by Gaoke. This rocket was built by CRCL, a company owned by CALT, which is in turn owned by the Chinese government. Many Long March rockets have been built by CALT, including its most-flown and oldest launchers.

Chinese officials hadn’t publicized this launch in advance. In a post-launch statement, CALT announced that the rocket was 64 feet tall and around 4 feet in diameter. It weighed a staggering 51,000 pounds. This rocket can carry around 440 pounds of cargo into a helio-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 310 miles, as per CALT. This rocket happens to be the 4th solid-fueled Chinese smallsat launcher that debuted during the past ten months. All of them can carry a similar amount of cargo. While private investment is responsible for funding most of the Chinese commercial launch firms, they are heavily dependent on Chinese missile program military technologies.

Tang Yagang of CRCL stated that another launch would be conducted during 2019 as well. The year 2020 would see at least 5 launches. The firm already has 6 launches booked in advance by its clients.