China Launches Two Demonstration Satellites to Space

Chinese Long March 2C Rocket Launch, Oct. 14, 2012
A Long March 2C rocket carrying two satellites blasts off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China on Oct. 14, 2012. (Image credit: China Academy of Space Technology)

China successfully launched a Long March 2C rocket Sunday (Oct. 14), orbiting a pair of engineering research satellites to test new technologies in space, according to state-run media reports.

The Long March 2C launcher lifted off at 11:25 a.m. Beijing time Sunday (0325 GMT; 11:25 p.m. EDT Saturday) from the Taiyuan space center in northern China's Shanxi province, a remote site about 265 miles (426 kilometers) southwest of Beijing.

The state-run Xinhua news agency reported the launch was successful. China did not announce plans for the launch in advance.

The Long March 2C booster was carrying two Shijian 9 demonstration satellites, state media reported. The rocket reached a near-polar orbit, according to U.S. military tracking data.

Official Chinese reports did not identify what specific components the Shijian 9 satellites would test in orbit, but state media said the mission would focus on satellite reliability demonstrations and validating high-performance Chinese-made technologies.

Shijian means "practice" in Chinese.

Sunday's launch marked China's 14th space launch of 2012 and the 56th mission to reach orbit worldwide this year.

Copyright 2012, all rights reserved.

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Stephen Clark is the Editor of Spaceflight Now, a web-based publication dedicated to covering rocket launches, human spaceflight and exploration. He joined the Spaceflight Now team in 2009 and previously wrote as a senior reporter with the Daily Texan. You can follow Stephen's latest project at and on Twitter.