China opened its launch account for 2023 with a pair of orbital launches.
At 2200 GMT on 8 January 2022, China launched a Long March 7A (CZ-7A) rocket from its Southern launch site, Wenchang, Hainan Island. It carried the Shi Jian 23 communications test satellite. The satellite was injected into a GTO (Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit) on its way to its final geostationary operational position. Correction: It was originally misreported that the Shiyan 22A and Shiyan 22B technology test satellites were aboard. This is incorrect. These flew on a separate launch five days later.
Next up was a was a Ceres-1 (Gushenxing-1) rocket which launched from Jiuquan at 0504 GMT on 9 January 2022. This vehicle has been developed privately in China by Galactic Energy. The flight was the fifth consecutive success for the solid rocket vehicle. The payloads onboard were described by the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, as being: Tianqi-13, two satellites for the “Tianmu-1 meteorological constellation” and two (Keji 1 and Nantong Zhongxue) for “Earth observation and space science popularisation”.
Matt Wilson contributed to this report.