The rocket blasted off at 1:30 p.m. (Beijing Time) at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China and soon took the satellites, including the Jilin-1 Gaofen 06A, into preset orbit.
This was the 476th flight mission of the Long March rocket series.
Onboard satellites included 36 from the Jilin-1 family, developed by the Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd., a commercial satellite maker in northeast China’s Jilin Province. They will increase the number of in-orbit Jilin-1 satellites to 108, assembling China’s first commercial constellation of more than 100 remote sensing satellites.
The first Jilin-1 group was launched in October 2015. Over the past eight years, the weight of each satellite with the same function has been greatly reduced from 420 kilograms to 22 kilograms.
He Xiaojun, chief designer of the Jilin-1 Gaofen 06A, said the weight reduction has benefited from the use of upgraded image sensors, improved design techniques and advanced integrated chips.
The changes do not affect the resolution of satellite images but expand their visible range by 50 percent. They also lower the cost to one-twentieth of previous satellites, He said.
"Just like the evolution of computers," the scientist explained, "from bulky desktops to today’s laptops and smartphones, the devices have been reduced in size due to technology upgrades, but the computing performance is improving."
According to the company, the newly launched satellites will be used to provide commercial remote sensing data services for sectors such as land resources, mineral exploration and smart city construction.