China successfully launched its first microgravity satellite, the SJ-10, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province at 1:38 am on April 6.
Designed in the shape of a bullet, the SJ-10 carries 19 experimental loads for 28 scientific research projects in microgravity, a very low gravity that mimics weightlessness, including research into fluid physics, fire safety on manned space flights, coal combustion and materials processing.
Microgravity experiments have previously been carried out on space facilities, including space stations, space shuttles and research rockets.
The SJ-10 will stay in the orbit for a few days and an orbital module will stay in orbit another few days for additional experiments.
“The recoverable satellite is a useful and efficient tool for microgravity experiments, compared to space stations and research rockets,” said physicist Hu Wenrui, chief scientist of SJ-10 and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
The SJ-10 project is being carried out in a partnership with 11 institutes of the CAS and six Chinese universities in cooperation with the European Space Agency and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Started in 2011, the Strategic Priority Program on Space Science plans to launch four satellites by the end of the year.
The first satellite of this program, a dark-matter satellite, was launched in December and already is collecting data. The program also plans to launch a satellite for quantum science experiments and a hard X-ray telescope for black hole and neutron star studies.