Two satellites destined to join China’s Beidou network successfully launched Thursday aboard a Long March 3B rocket, the first two of up to 18 new Chinese navigation craft scheduled for deployment this year.
China’s Long March 3B rocket, used to power navigation and communications satellites into high-altitude orbits, launched for the first time in nearly five months Sunday with two spacecraft for the country’s Beidou positioning network.
The launch of three experimental remote sensing satellites last week signaled the resumption of Chinese space launches following multiple rocket failures since late last year, but a senior Chinese space official has confirmed the Chang’e 5 mission to return samples from the moon remains grounded.
A Chinese Long March 3C rocket boosted a fresh satellite into orbit Sunday to join the country’s Beidou navigation system, deploying the craft into an elliptical orbit ranging more than 22,000 miles above Earth.
China launched a new spacecraft into orbit Monday begin growing the country’s Beidou navigation system into a global service alongside satellite constellations from the United States, Russia and Europe.