JIUQUAN, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- China's new carrier rocket Smart Dragon-1 (SD-1), designed for commercial use, made its maiden flight on Saturday, sending three satellites into planned orbit.
The rocket, developed by the China Rocket Co. Ltd. affiliated to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT), blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 12:11 p.m. (Beijing Time).
The three satellites, respectively developed by three Beijing-based companies, will be used for remote sensing services, communication and Internet of Things.
Different from the carrier rockets of the Long March family, the new Dragon series are developed in a commercial mode to meet the market demand of launching small commercial satellites, said Wang Xiaojun, head of CALVT.
The SD-1, with a total length of 19.5 meters, a diameter of 1.2 meter, and a takeoff weight of about 23.1 tonnes, is a small-scale solid-propellant carrier rocket capable of sending 200 kg payloads to the solar synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 km.
"It has the highest carrying efficiency among China's current commercial solid-propellant rockets," said Gong Min, technical manager of the SD-1 project.
It took less than 18 months to develop SD-1, which is the shortest period to develop a new type of carrier rocket in China.