On Wednesday evening, China successfully sent twin BeiDou-3 navigation satellites into space on a single carrier rocket.
The Long March-3B carrier rocket lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 10:07 p.m. — this was the 285th mission of the Long March rocket series.
The twin satellites are the 37th and 38th editions of the BeiDou navigation system. After a series of tests and evaluations, they will work together with 12 BeiDou-3 satellites already on orbit. The twin satellites will provide danger alerts and navigation services for global users. A basic system with 18 orbiting BeiDou-3 satellites will be in place by the end of the year, which will serve countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.
The satellites and the rocket for Wednesday's launch were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology and the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, respectively. Named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper, the BeiDou system started serving China in 2000 and the Asia-Pacific region in 2012.