Chuangxin-16 | Kuaizhou-1A

Featured Image Credit: 9ifly
Lift Off Time

August 23, 2022 – 02:36 UTC | 10:36 BJT

Mission Name


Launch Provider
(What rocket company launched it?)

ExPace (part of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation CASIC)

(Who paid for this?)

China Academy of Sciences



Launch Location

Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China

Payload mass

Unknown, but up to 300 kg (660 lb)

Where did the satellite go?

596 x 590 km low-Earth orbit at 29.01 degrees

Did they attempt to recover the first stage?

No, the Kuaizhou is not capable of booster recovery

Where did the first stage land?

It crash-landed in the remote countryside

Did they attempt to recover the fairings?

No, the Kuaizhou is not capable of fairing recovery

Were these fairings new?


This was the:

– 16th launch of a Kuaizhou 1A rocket
– 106th orbital launch attempt of 2022 (103rd successful)

Where to watch

Unofficial Replay

How Did It Go?

ExSpace successfully placed the Chuangxin-16 satellite into low-Earth orbit for the China Academy of Sciences. The payload was placed into a 596 by 590 km low-Earth orbit at 29.01 degrees. Nothing is known about the purpose of this payload.


The Kuaizhou launch vehicle is a four-stage small-lift launch vehicle, meant for sending small sats to low-Earth orbit. The vehicle is similar in both size and capability to Rocket Lab’s Electron launch vehicle; however, unlike Electron the first three stages of Kuaizhou are solid fuel, with only the last stage being liquid fueled.

Kuaizhou-1A rocket (Credit: ExPace)

First flying in 2017, Kuaizhou-1A is based on the two-stage DF-21 medium-range ballistic missile. It can lift up to 300 kg to a 500 km low-Earth orbit, or 250 kg into a 500 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO).

Overall, the rocket is 20 m (~66 ft) tall with a maximum width of 1.4 m (~4 ft). At take-off, it has a mass of 30 tonnes, and flies from a mobile transporter-erector vehicle, rather than a fixed launch pad.

Kuaizhou-1A mobile launcher vehicle (Credit: ExPace)

“Kuai zhou” means “fast vessel,” signifying that the launch preparations only require six members and can be carried out in under 24 hours.

Kuaizhou-1A specifications (Credit: ExPace)

Kuaizhou-1A First Stage

The first stage is 1.4 m wide and has a solid fuel motor. It has a mass of 16.6 metric tons at take off, after which the solid motor burns for 65 s, delivering 2,352 Ns/kg (239.8 lbf s/lb) of thrust. Stage separation occurs 83 seconds into the flight when the vehicle is about 36 km in altitude.

Kuaizhou-1A Second Stage

The second stage is also 1.4 m in diameter and also uses a solid fuel motor. The second stage is shorter than the first stage but not by much. The mass of this stage is 8,686 kg. The motor burns for 62 seconds, providing 2,810 Ns/kg (286.5 lbf s/lb) of thrust. Stage separation takes place 161 seconds into the flight.

Kuaizhou-1A Third Stage

The third stage is slightly slimmer than the first two, at 1.2 m. It is significantly shorter than the second stage. This stage has a mass of 3,183 kg, and its motor burns for 55 seconds, giving 2,850 Ns/kg (290.6 lbf s/lb).

Kuaizhou-1A Fourth Stage

The fourth stage is the only part of the rocket that uses liquid fuel. It uses Monomethylhydrazine (MMH) for fuel and Nitrogen Tetroxide (N2O4) as the oxidizer. Similar to the 3rd stage, it is also 1.2 m wide.

Liquid booster control segment (Credit: ExPace)

After stage 4 shutdown, the stage coasts for about 8 seconds. This is so that the vehicle will have the appropriate angular velocities for correct payload deployment.

Kuaizhou-1A launch profile (Credit: ExPace)

Launch Sequence And Countdown

Time before launchProcedureT-240 minPrepare for launch; launch vehicle erectionT-200 minThe whole checking of the launch vehicleT-190 minSatellite test (The test is allocated 1 hour, but the time could be adjusted based on the actual situation)T-130 minInstall lattice ruddersT-95 minAimingT-70 minCorrection of guidance before launchT-25 minCommunication & Tracking System power-onT-15 minRecall satellite with GPS/BD2T-10 minDemolition of defend breeze blockT-9 min 30 secCommunication & Tracking System starts workT-9 min 30 secStart the flow of launchT-2 minControl System power switch-overT-1 minAutomatic ignition procedure start; engine gimbal check, safety control turning to internal powerT-0 secIgnitionTypical Pre-Launch Countdown Procedure (Credit: ExPace KZ-1A User’s Manual v1.1)

Rocket section adapted from Andy Law.

The post Chuangxin-16 | Kuaizhou-1A appeared first on Everyday Astronaut.

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