China launches three more satellites after recent rocket doubleheader

rocket lifting off in between launch towers. steam rises on the right. grassy hills are in the background
A previous launch of a Chinese Long March 6 rocket. (Image credit: OurSpace/CNSA)

China turned a spaceflight doubleheader into a triple play.

The country lobbed yet another rocket into space Monday (Sept. 26) at 7:50 p.m. EDT (2350 GMT; 7:50 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Sept. 27), this time with three satellites on board, following two other successful liftoffs over the past few days.

On Monday evening's mission, from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in the northern province of Shanxi, a Long March 6 rocket successfully delivered to orbit three satellites: Shiyan-16A, Shiyan-16B and Shiyan-17, according to Chinese media reports.

"Shiyan means 'experiment' in Chinese. The Shiyan satellite trio will provide data for land survey, urban planning and disaster prevention and mitigation," the state-run media outlet Xinhua wrote in a brief report (opens in new tab) about the launch.

China had already launched two other rockets just 40 hours apart prior to Monday evening's action. 

Related: China launches 4 satellites with 2 rockets in 2 days

On Saturday (Sept. 24) at 6:55 p.m. EDT (2255 GMT; 6:55 a.m. Beijing time on Sept. 25), a Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket carried the Shiyan-14 and Shiyan-15 spacecraft into space, once again from Taiyuan.

That launch was the 18th overall for the Kuaizhou-1A, which is operated by the Chinese company ExPace (a subsidiary of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation).

"The Shiyan-14 will mainly be used to conduct scientific experiments and verify new technologies, while the Shiyan-15 will provide data in the fields of land survey, urban planning and disaster prevention and mitigation," Xinhua reported on Sunday (opens in new tab) (Sept. 25).

The second launch occurred Monday at 9:38 a.m. EDT (1338 GMT; 9:38 p.m. Beijing time) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in southwestern China's Sichuan province. On that flight, a Long March 2D rocket successfully sent the Yaogan 36 remote-sensing satellite to orbit, Xinhua reported (opens in new tab).

While Xinhau did not discuss the satellite's functiona, Western experts have said the Yaogan satellites likely collect imagery and data for both civilian and military launches. It's a populous set of satellites, given that China has sent multiple sets of Yaogan 35 triplets to space in 2022 alone.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: