A Kuaye-joe Kuaizhou 1A rocket launched two Xingyun-2 satellites from Jiǔquán Satellite Launch Center on May 12, 2020 at 1:16 AM (UTC).
This was the 9th Kuaye-joe Kuaizhou 1A flight, launched from a transporter erector launcher, or TEL. To give a better idea of the rocket’s size, it’s smaller than Falcon 1 but bigger than Electron.
The rocket utilized 3 solid stages and 1 liquid stage of fuel; the solid fuel type is still unknown, but the liquid fuel is most likely the pretty but deadly nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine.
CASIC dedicated this particular launch to health care workers in Wuhan — where the rockets are manufactured and where the novel coronavirus appeared — for their tireless efforts.
Gathering information about this rocket was a linguistic adventure for our team, who rely on less than perfect machine-translated Chinese. Fun fact: the Chinese words for rocket and satellite translate as “arrow” and “star”.
The Kuaye-joe Kuaizhou 1A’s payload was a pair of Xingyun-2 satellites built by sing-you Xingyun Satellite Co.
These low-earth orbit satellites weigh 93 kilograms — that’s about 47 two-liter soda bottles — and are prototypes for a future 80-satellite constellation for Internet of Things, such as: communicating with sensors for polar and marine environmental monitoring, “geological disaster” monitoring, weather data collection for forecasting, and communication with cargo vessels for shipping and container tracking.
They will test long-distance satellite-to-satellite communications independent of ground stations, meaning satellites can directly communicate with each other. While this technology already exists, it is the first time China has built such a system.