China used one of its carrier rockets to send two satellites into space on Wednesday for an Argentine company, marking the first launch in a massive launch service contract with the South American satellite developer.
The NewSat 7 and 8 satellites, designed and built by Satellogic, a private Argentine company that specializes in Earth-observation satellites, were lifted atop a Long March 2D carrier rocket at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province, State-owned space conglomerate China Aerospace Science and Technology said.
Their deployments were the first in a launch service contract signed in January last year by Satellogic and China Great Wall Industry, the international arm of China Aerospace Science and Technology.
According to the contract, Great Wall will use multiple Long March rockets to deploy 90 of Satellogic's 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 world with a 1-meter resolution on a weekly basis. The network is expected to dramatically reduce the cost of high-frequency geospatial analytics, Great Wall said.
Before the new deal, the Chinese launch service provider helped Satellogic send six satellites into orbit on Long March-series rockets.
Though financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, the deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, meaning it is one of the largest contracts China has obtained in the international commercial launch market in the past few years, said Fu Zhiheng, vice-president of Great Wall.
Wednesday's flight also sent a new Chinese optical remotesensing satellite for commercial use into orbit.
The satellite, the latest in the Jilin-1 satellite family, was developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology in Jilin province. It has superwide coverage and a resolution at the sub-meter level. It is also capable of high-speed data storage and transmission.
It will work with the 15 Jilin-1 satellites already in orbit to form a constellation to provide remote-sensing data and services for governmental and industrial users.