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BEIJING (PTI): China on Monday successfully sent three satellites into space in its first commercial mission using an updated version of the low-cost Kuaizhou-1A rocket, amidst the Communist giant's determined bid to expand its ambitious space programme.
The rocket, carrying the satellite JL-1 and two CubeSats XY-S1 and Caton-1, blasted off from north-western China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province at around 12:11 pm Beijing Time, according to a statement from the centre.
The KZ-1A rocket was developed from the Kuaizhou-1 rocket with improvements in adaptability. It is a low-cost solid-fuelled carrier rocket with high reliability and short preparation period and was designed to launch low-orbit satellites weighing under 300 kg, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The JL-1 is a multifunctional remote-sensing satellite providing high-definition video images which is expected to be used for land resource and forestry surveying, environmental protection, transport and disaster prevention and relief purposes, it said.
The XY-S1 and Caton-1 are experimental satellites to test technologies of low-orbit narrow-band communication and VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) respectively.
A rocket technology company under the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation was responsible for the launch mission. The success of the mission marks the company's capability of providing flexible, convenient, quick and economical launch services for domestic and overseas clients, said the statement.
China plans to conduct a record number of 30 space launch missions this year as part of its efforts to expand its ambitious space programme, authorities said last week.
The record-breaking space launches will be launched by Long March-5 and Long March-7 rockets, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation had said.
Long March-5 is China's largest carrier rocket.
China recently released an official white paper on its space missions stating that it will launch a lunar probe in 2018 to achieve world's first soft landing on the far side of the Moon and a mission to Mars in the same year.
China conducted 22 launch missions in 2016 and 19 in 2015.
The country successfully tested its Long March-7 rocket in June last year and has gradually shifted to new generation rockets that reduce the use of toxic rocket fuels.
In the next five years, China plans to provide space and aviation-related services to countries involved in its 'One Belt and One Road' initiative, such as satellite communications, navigation and weather forecasting analysis.