China successfully launched its No. 2 telecommunications technology test satellite late on Thursday night from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The satellite was launched at 11:18 pm by a Long March-3B carrier rocket, kicking off another brand new year of space exploration for the country in 2017.
Long March-3B carries the No. 2 telecommunication technology test satellite and roars to the sky on Jan 5, 2017 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province. Photo/Mao Caiwang, Zhang Lei
The No. 2 telecommunication technology test satellite was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, which is affiliated to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and the Long March-3B carrier rocket was developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
This launch is the 245th trip that the Long March family has carried out.
Long March-3B carrier rocket at Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province, Jan 5, 2017. /Beijing Society of Astronautics Weibo Photo
China plans to go big in space in 2017, as 30 space launch missions are scheduled, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, in comparison to 22 launch missions in 2016 and 19 in 2015.
Last month, China released a white paper on its space activities, announcing plans to land the Chang'e-5 spacecraft on the moon by the end of 2017 and launch its first Mars probe by 2020.
Control room of Long March-3B carrier rocket at Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Photo/Mao Caiwang, Zhang Lei
The white paper also says China will provide space and aviation-related services to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative in the next five years, such as satellite communications, weather forecast analysis and navigation.