Chinese Satellite Launch Smooths Way for Space Station

Posted September 18th, 2011 at 11:15 pm (UTC-5)
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China on Monday announced the successful launch of a communications satellite, a move that brings it closer to launching a test module for its own space station.

The official Xinhua news agency said a Long March-3B rocket fired the satellite into space shortly after midnight from a launch site in Sichuan province. Xinhua said the satellite will provide high-quality voice communication, broadcast and data transmission services for users across China.

It was China's first successful launch since a Long March rocket misfired on August 18, prompting officials to postpone the scheduled launch of the space station test module, named Tiangong-1 or “Heavenly Palace.” Monday's successful satellite launch suggests that problems with the rocket have been resolved.

Xinhua said the Zhongxing-1A satellite launched Monday was designed and manufactured by the China Academy of Space Technology. It was the 138th flight by the Long March series of launch vehicles.