China launched more satellites with a single rocket than it had previously managed.

On June 15 at 1:30 am EDT (13:30 local time), one of the nation’s Long March 2D rockets launched from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in north China, carrying a number of satellites into orbit.

Many insulation tiles can be seen coming off the rocket in the stunning video of the launch as it soars into the sky carrying 41 tiny satellites intended for low Earth orbit.

China’s new satellite launch record

China had a record of launching 26 satellites on a single mission prior to the launch on June 15. Only a few days prior to the Long March 2D flight, a Lijian 1 rocket built by the commercial space company CAS Space achieved the previous record.

Long March 2D is 135 feet (41 metres) tall and has a payload lift capacity of 2,866 pounds (1,300 kilogrammes) to a sun-synchronous orbit.

SpaceX achieved the record for the most satellites ever launched by a single rocket when it carried 143 satellites into orbit on the Transporter-1 rideshare mission in January 2021.

The satellites lifted by the Long March 2D rocket were Jilin-1 GF06A0 satellites 1-30, Jilin-1GF03D 19-26, HEGS-1 and Jilin-1 PT02A01/02, all developed by China’s commercial remote sensing satellite firm Changguang Satellite (CGST). According to a┬áreport by Space.com, CGST aims to put over 300 satellites in orbit by 2025. The company is a spin off of an institute that’s part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and it’s based in Jilin in northeast China.

China’s rapid space progress

In order to compete with SpaceX’s Starlink constellation, China is also building a constellation of internet satellites known as “Guowang,” or the national network. Recently, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) declared that it would launch those satellites using its Long March 8 rocket and would increase its launch vehicle production capability to assist in putting some 13,000 of the satellites into orbit.

China recently declared its intention to send people to the Moon by 2030, followed by a crewed expedition to Mars. The country’s space industry has advanced quickly in recent years.

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