China continued its stream of rocket launches on Friday (Nov. 26) by lofting a new communications satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.
A Long March 3B launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 11:40 a.m. EST Friday (1640 GMT, or 12:40 a.m. Nov. 27 local time). Orange and red exhaust briefly illuminated the launch pad and surrounding hills as the rocket rose from the pad and into the night sky.
The rocket carried the ChinaSat 1D (Zhongxing 1D) communications satellite into orbit. The satellite was developed under the China Academy of Space Technology, the country's main, state-owned spacecraft maker.
Video: Blastoff! China launches Zhongxing-1D communications satellite
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No information about the satellite's capabilities was released, suggesting that it may at least partially serve military customers.
State media China Daily states that the satellite will be tasked with transmitting telephone, internet, television and radio signals, while NASA Spaceflight writes that the ChinaSat 1 series satellites provide secure data and voice transmission for Chinese forces.
2021 has been a record-breaking year for Chinese launch activity and this launch was China's 47th of the year.
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