China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the country’s southern Sichuan region successfully launched three new remote sensing satellites on Saturday, according to official media. According to the Xinhua news agency, the Yaogan-35 satellites were launched by a Long March-2D carrier rocket and successfully entered the planned orbit.
The Long March series carrier rockets were launched for the 396th time. China’s Long March-3B rocket, which has been the backbone of the country’s space programme since 1970, successfully completed its 300th launch in March 2019, launching a new communication satellite into orbit.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s Long March carrier rocket family is responsible for roughly 96.4 percent of all Chinese launch operations. The Long March rockets took 37 years to accomplish the first 100 launches, 7.5 years to complete the second 100 flights, and only four years to complete the final 100 missions, according to Xinhua.
The missile launch follows the launch of a new spacecraft, which many mistakenly mistook for a missile test. China later explained that the test was simply to evaluate if the vehicle could be repurposed.
China’s expansion into hypersonic missile technology and other advanced fields, in addition to its space programme, has alarmed countries such as the United States, as Beijing claims oceans and islands in the South and East China Seas, as well as significant tracts of land along its disputed high-mountain border with India.
China’s space programme is overseen by the military and is tightly linked to the country’s goal of developing hypersonic weapons and other technologies that could tip the power balance against the US.