To say that we are currently living in an enlightened age of space exploration would be an understatement. Not since the initial Moon landing has there been this much energy being used in the pursuit of space technology by countries around the globe. Hidden in the headlines behind the recent SpaceX Falcon Heavy Launch was the launch of a trio of satellites — one by Russia, China, and Japan. These satellites were launched back-to-back-to-back over a three day period despite there being no coordination from the countries involved.
The trio of launches, which should get any space fan excited, happened from Thursday, February 1st to Saturday, February 3rd. The three launches happened starting the day after the Falcon 9 was launched by SpaceX in successful fashion. The SpaceX launch saw the Falcon 9 carrying a communications satellite known as the GovSat-1 up into orbit via the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station which is located in Florida.
Among the trio of launches, Russia was the first to take to orbit when they launched their Soyuz 2 rocket. The launch occurred at the Vostochny Cosmodrome and the rock was carrying a pair of Kanopus-V observation satellites. Along with these two major satellites, an additional 9 satellites were brought into orbit though these were much smaller in size. This news broke by way of Russia’s space agency which goes by the name of Roscosmos.
China followed Rusia’s launch with their own Long March 2D rocket which went up on Friday. The Long March 2D rocket was delivered into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. This rocket carried what we now know as the Zhangheng 1 satellite which will be used to try and detect symptoms and signals that could signify a coming earthquake. China made this launch in concert with Italy’s space agency and the entire mission has scored the label of China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite, which is quite the mouthful. Six additional, smaller, satellites were brought into orbit which range from the GomX-4A to the NuSat line of microsatellites.
Japan closed out the round of launches with their SS-520 rocket. This rocket was launched from the Uchinoura Space Center and it carried a smaller satellite known as the TRICOM-1R which has scored a nickname, ‘Tsuku’. This satellite will be used to take pictures of the earth before sending the data back to the ground. This is the second effort by Japan to put this style of satellite into space.