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Chinese Kuaizhou-1A Rocket Launches 2 More Satellites into Orbit

China successfully sent another two satellites into orbit on Sunday (Nov. 17), according to a state news report, just days after an epic double rocket liftoff from different launch centers.

A Kuaizhou-1A rocket built by the company ExPace (a part of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation) launched the multimedia satellites KL-a-A and KL-a-B — collectively known as KL-Alpha — at 5 a.m. EST (1000 GMT, or 6 p.m. local time in Beijing). The satellites — launched on behalf of the Chinese Academy of Sciences— flew into space flawlessly from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. 

China's state news provider Xinhua did not provide immediate information about how the satellites are performing during the first tests of their commissioning period, which can take several weeks or months depending on the mission. The two satellites will perform tests of high-speed Ka-band communication technology in an international collaboration for a German company, Xinhua said, without providing the name of the company.

Video: China’s Rocket Launch Bonanza Continues with Satellite Pair (opens in new tab)
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Latest News About China's Space Program (opens in new tab)

China's Kuaizhou-1A rocket lifts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, on Nov. 17, 2019. (Image credit: CCTV)

The Kuaizhou-1A rocket is a booster designed to be rapidly prepared for launch opportunities. It's mainly designed for small satellites that go to low Earth orbit, Xinhua said. Between the new Kuaizhou-1A booster and China's famed Long March rocket, the country has launched several missions in the last two months – including a double-header launch just 3 hours apart last week.

On Wednesday (Nov. 13), a Long March 6 rocket sent five remote sensing satellites aloft from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in China's Shanxi Province. Three hours beforehand, on Tuesday night local time, a Kuaizhou-1A rocket launched a small satellite called Jilin-1 Gaofen 02A from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.