China’s Kuaizhou 1A rocket launches four Tianmu-1 weather satellites, setting the stage for an eventful year in space exploration
China launched four Tianmu-1 weather satellites to start 2024 on a high note in space exploration. The Kuaizhou 1A solid rocket launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center started a promising year in space.
The Kuaizhou 1A rocket was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center’s cargo erector launcher at 6:20 a.m. EST on January 5. The rocket carried four Tianmu-1 weather satellites, numbered 15-18, boosting hopes for a busy year in space.
The new weather satellites, developed by CASIC, entered near-polar orbits at 323 miles (520 kilometers). The three Tianmu-1 launches in 12 days demonstrate China’s dedication to building a constellation for commercial meteorological data.
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The Tianmu satellites use GNSS radio occultation to detect GPS and Beidou signals as they cross Earth’s atmosphere. As CASIC’s launch offshoot Expace seeks to break into the competitive Chinese commercial launch industry, the launches provide promising potential.
China’s space efforts in 2024 will be watched worldwide. Expectations are high for another eventful year in space with a national record of 67 launches in 2023, continuing missions like the Shenzhou 18 and 19 crewed flights and the Tianzhou 7 and 8 cargo missions to the Tiangong space station, and the Chang’e 6 lunar far side sample-return mission.