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 about the launch.
China had already launched two other rockets just 40 hours apart prior to Monday evening's action.
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 (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.
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 (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, 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 a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace