China launched a Long March 6 carrier rocket to deploy 10 small satellites for an Argentine company on Friday.
The rocket also carried three small Chinese satellites, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a State-owned space contractor.
The Long March 6 blasted off at 11:19 am from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province, carrying 10 NewSat remote-sensing satellites, from NewSat 9 to 18, into low-Earth orbit, CASC said.
The 10 satellites were developed by Satellogic, a private Argentine company that specializes in Earth-observation satellites, and are parts of the Aleph-1 network it operates to obtain high-resolution pictures of land for commercial clients.
Each of the Argentine satellites weighs 41 kilograms and carries multispectral and high-resolution imagers. They are expected to work in orbit for at least three years.
The launch was the second by China to put NewSat-series satellites in orbit, with NewSat 7 and 8 carried aloft by a Long March 2D rocket launched from the Taiyuan center in January.
The deployments are part of a launch service contract signed in January last year by Satellogic and China Great Wall Industry, a CASC subsidiary that handles commercial launch services.
According to the contract, Great Wall will use multiple Long March rockets to deploy 90 Satellogic Earth-observation satellites into space from the Taiyuan center.
After all the satellites are placed in orbit, they will form an Earth-observation satellite system capable of capturing images of the entire planet with a 1-meter resolution on a weekly basis. The network is expected to dramatically reduce the cost of high-frequency geospatial analysis, Great Wall said.
Before the deal, the Chinese launch service provider had helped Satellogic send six satellites from another series into orbit on Long March rockets.
Friday's launch marked the fourth flight of the Long March 6, which was designed and built by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, a CASC subsidiary.
The 29.3-meter rocket is capable of placing about 1 metric ton of payload into a sun-synchronous orbit 700 kilometers above the ground.
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