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China's Smart Dragon 3 launches satellites from South China Sea
A Smart Dragon 3 carrier rocket launches Saturday morning off the coast of Yangjiang in Guangdong province, placing nine satellites in space.
China's Smart Dragon 3 launches satellites from South China Sea
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Feb 05, 2024

China's growing prowess in the arena of space exploration and satellite deployment was once again on display as the nation successfully launched the Smart Dragon 3 carrier rocket on Saturday morning. Taking off from a launch service ship off the coast of Yangjiang in Guangdong province, this mission marked a significant milestone by placing nine satellites into their designated orbits in space.

The Smart Dragon 3, a solid-propellant rocket developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, soared into the cloudy skies at 11:07 am, signifying the third space launch executed from the South China Sea. This launch was particularly notable for including the first foreign satellite among its cargo, the NExSat-1, an experimental spacecraft collaboratively built by Egypt's National Authority for Remote Sensing and Space Sciences and Germany's Berlin Space Technologies. This collaborative effort underscores the international interest and trust in China's satellite launch capabilities.

Standing at 31 meters tall and 2.65 meters in diameter, the Smart Dragon 3 boasts a liftoff weight of 140 metric tons. It is powered by a high-performance, solid-propellant engine capable of generating a thrust of 200 tons with 71 tons of propellant. This design enables the rocket to deliver multiple satellites, with a combined weight of up to 1.5 tons, to a typical sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers.

The Smart Dragon 3's successful maiden flight occurred in December 2022 from a ship in the Yellow Sea, deploying 14 satellites into orbit. Its second mission in December 2023, also off Yangjiang, marked the first sea-based rocket launch from the South China Sea, further demonstrating China's commitment to enhancing its sea-launch capabilities for greater flexibility and efficiency in satellite deployment.

Jin Xin, the project manager for the Smart Dragon 3, highlighted the rocket's appeal to clients aiming for the rapid establishment of space-based commercial networks. The rocket's capability for quick, multiple satellite launches makes it an attractive option for building commercial networks in space promptly.

To date, China has conducted 10 sea-based launches, diversifying its launch capabilities beyond traditional land-based sites. These launches include five by the Long March 11 model, three by the Smart Dragon 3, one by the Ceres 1 rocket from the private company Galactic Energy, and another by Gravity 1 from Orienspace, another Beijing-based private firm. With seven launches in the Yellow Sea and three in the South China Sea, China is broadening its geographical reach and operational flexibility in space launches.

Based on a Xinhua News Agency article

Related Links
China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
China National Space Agency
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

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