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Lofty Ambitions: China’s Expansive Space Launch Capabilities

Alexandra Stickings and Elizabeth Quintana
RUSI Defence Systems, 23 March 2017
Aerospace, China
A secretive small satellite launch in February is evidence of China’s continuing technological advancements in the space realm. But this launch masks the broader range of space capabilities that China is building

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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Author

Alexandra Stickings
Research Analyst, National Security and Resilience

Alexandra Stickings is a Research Analyst within the National Security and Resilience Studies group at RUSI. Working primarily within... read more

Elizabeth Quintana
Associate Fellow

Elizabeth is a RUSI Associate Fellow specialising in Futures and Technology. Her research considers the doctrinal, strategic and ethical... read more

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