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China’s launch in March 2017 of a satellite into polar orbit is just the latest example of the use of new launchers deployed by the country’s space programme. In an unannounced launch, the KT-2 rocket blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Mongolia. Although little is known about its design, it does allow for an exploration of launch developments as part of China’s wider space ambitions.
Within the past year, China has introduced a number of different launch vehicles. The KT-2 is part of a series of solid launch vehicles (which are based on solid fuel sources and used for lighter payloads). It has similar capabilities to the Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A), which was also launched from Jiuquan, in early January 2017, carrying one larger satellite and two cubesats (small satellites with a mass of between one and ten kilograms).
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