Long March 3B Launches Communication Technology Test Satellite

Long March 3B rocket lifts off. (Credit: Zhang Yiyi)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — At 23:36 on February 4, the Long March 3B carrier rocket lifted the communication technology test satellite No. 6 into the sky frm the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Subsequently, the satellite was successfully sent into the predetermined orbit, and the launch mission was a complete success.

The communication technology test satellite No. 6 was developed by the Eighth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Limited. It is mainly used for satellite communications, radio and television, data transmission and other services, and conducts related technical test verification.

The Long March 3B carrier rocket used for this launch belongs to the “Gold Medal Rocket” Long March 3A series and was developed by the First Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology Group.

This mission is the 360th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.

Long March 3B Launches Tiantong-1 03 Communications Satellite

Long March 3B rocket lifts off with Tiantong-1 03 satellite. (Credit: Zhang Yiyi)

BEIJING (CASC PR) — At 00:25 on January 20, the Long March 3B carrier rocket ignited and lifted off at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, and then sent the Tiantong-1 03 satellite into the scheduled orbit. The launch mission was a complete success.

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Upgraded Long March 3B Launches Gaofen 14 Satellite

Long March 3B booster launches Gaefen 14 Earth observation satellite on Dec. 6, 2020. (Credit: CALT)

BEIJING (CALT PR) — On Dec. 6 at 11:58 a.m., the Long March 3B successfully launched the Gaofen 14 remote sensing satellite into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

There are two major changes in the Long March 3B rocket that performed the mission: the fairing has been increased by 900 mm; and it will perform the low-orbit launch mission for the first time.

The Gaofen 14 satellite launched this time has a relatively taller size. In order to meet the needs of the mission, the fairing of the rocket was 900 mm [35.4 inches] higher than the previous 4.2-meter [13.78-foot] diameter fairing.

The height of the fairing has changed the shape of the rocket. The total length of the rocket is 58 meters [190.3 ft].

The first low-orbit launch mission

In the past, Long March 3B rockets were used to perform high-orbit launch missions, including geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO orbit) and medium earth orbit (MEO orbit). This launch is the first low-orbit launch mission of Long March 3B rocket, namely sun synchronization. Orbital mission (SSO orbit).

To this end, a lot of changes have been made to the software part of the rocket control system, and the flight software code has been rewritten by about 30%, including the addition of guidance control in the first-level flight segment, the use of “4 yuan” for attitude control throughout the entire process, and use of the third-level.

In addition to iterative guidance and control, the purpose is to adapt to changes in the launch orbit. This launch means that the Long March 3B rocket has both high and low orbit launch capabilities, which improves the orbital adaptability of the Long March 3B rocket.

This mission was the 354th launch of the Long March series rocket.

Long March 3B Rocket Successfully Launches Tiantong-1 02 Satellite

Long March 3B lifts off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. (Credit: China Aerospace Science and Technology Group)

BEIJING (China Aerospace Science and Technology Group PR) — At 23:59 on November 12th, China successfully launched the Tiantong-1 02 satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center using the Long March 3B carrier rocket. The satellite entered the scheduled orbit and the launch mission was a complete success.

The launch of the Tiantong-1 02 satellite was developed by the Fifth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and is an important part of the Tiantong-1 satellite mobile communication system.

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The Long March 3B carrier rocket successfully launched the Gaofen 13 Satellite

BEIJING (China Aerospace Science and Technology Group PR) — At 0:57 on October 12, at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, the Long March 3B carrier rocket lifted the Gaofen 13 satellite into the sky. The satellite then entered the scheduled orbit, and the launch mission was a complete success.

The Gaofen 13 satellite was developed by the Fifth Academy of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It is a high-orbit optical remote sensing satellite. It is mainly used for land surveys, crop yield estimation, environmental governance, weather warning and forecasting, and comprehensive disaster prevention and mitigation. Provide information services for the construction of the national economy.

The Long March 3B carrier rocket for this launch mission was developed by the Fifth Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology Group. The rocket launch test team has done a lot of work in improving the reliability of the rocket, de-tasking products, and optimizing the pre-launch preparation process.

For this mission, the Long March 3B carrier rocket has carried out the most technological state change in recent years — 16 first-flight technologies have been updated, mainly involving satellite fairings, on-arrow pressurized transport systems, and three-stage rocket igniter, laser inertial group data, etc.

This launch is the 349th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.

Chinese Kuaizhou 1A Rocket Fails After Launch

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Kuaizhou 1A rocket failed to orbit the Jilin-1 Gaofen 02C optical remote-sensing satellite after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Saturday afternoon.

The official Xinhua news agency attributed the failure to the “abnormal performance” of the launch vehicle. An investigation has commenced.

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China Completes Beidou Satellite Navigation System

Note: As of June 28, 2019. Adapted from Kazuhiro Kida and Shinichi Hashimoto, “China’s Version of GPS Now Has More Satellites than US Original,” Nikkei Asian Review, August 19, 2019.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

China completed its Beidou satellite navigation system with a launch last week, fully standing up a rival to the American Global Positioning System (GPS), Europe’s Galileo constellation, and Russia’s GLONASS system and strengthening the nation as a space power.

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Schedule for Upcoming Launches

Electron rocket lifts off on Jan. 31, 2020. (Credit: Rocket Lab)

The week ahead features launches by Rocket Lab and SpaceX, Vega’s first rideshare mission, two Chinese launches, and a Japanese sounding rocket flight.

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China Suffers Second Launch Failure of 2020

A Chinese Long March 3B booster failed after launch on Thursday, destroying an Indonesian communications satellite and providing a spectacular nighttime light show for residents of Guam as debris burned up in the atmosphere.

China’s Xinhua news agency said the Long March 3B’s third stage malfunctioned after launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

The booster was carrying the Palapa-N1 geosynchronous communications satellite. The spacecraft was owned by Palapa Satelit Nusantara Sejahtera, which is a joint venture of Pasifik Satelit Nusantara and Indosat Ooredoo.

Palapa-N1, also known as Nusantara Dua, would have provided C-band and Ku-band broadcast and broadband services for Indonesia and neighboring regions. The China Academy of Space Technology built the spacecraft based on its DFH-4 platform.

Debris from the launch reentered the atmosphere near Guam. Officials said the debris posed no threat to the U.S. territory.

It was China’s second launch failure in less than a month. On March 16, the maiden launch of the Long March 7A rocket went awry, destroying a classified government satellite. Chinese officials have not announced the cause of the failure.

China Launches Weather and Navigation Satellites

China has launched a weather and two navigation satellites over the last several days.

A Long March 2D rocket lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert carrying the Yunhai-1 (02) meteorological satellite on Wednesday.

Yunhai-1 (02) was built by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

On Sunday, China launched a pair of satellites for its Beidou navigation system.

A Long March 3B booster placed the Beidou-47 and Beidou-48 spacecraft into medium Earth orbit after lifting off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province.

China Completes First Launch of 2019

China completed the first orbital launch of 2019 on Thursday as a Long March 3B booster orbited the Zhongxing-2D communications satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China.











China’s Chang’e-4 Could Land on Lunar Far Side this Week

Von Karman crater, the planned landing site for Chang’e-4.

China Daily said the Chang’e 4 spacecraft could land on the moon by Thursday.

The Chang’e 4 robotic probe is expected to land on the South Pole–Aitken basin on the silver sphere’s far side sometime between Wednesday and Thursday, according to information from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a major contractor of the country’s lunar exploration programs.

The State-owned conglomerate previously said that the spacecraft would fly 26 days before landing on the lunar surface.

Chang’e 4 was lifted atop a Long March 3B carrier rocket on Dec 8 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan province to fulfill the world’s first expedition on a lunar region that never faces the Earth.

The lander includes the following payloads:

  • landing and terrain cameras;
  • a low-frequency spectrometer;
  • a lunar lander neutrons and dosimetry (LND) dosimeter supplied by Kiel University in Germany;
  • a container with silkworm eggs and seeds of potatoes and Arabidopsis thaliana; and,
  • a miniature camera to record the growth of the eggs and seeds.

The rover’s payloads include:

  • a panoramic camera;
  • a lunar penetrating radar system;
  • a visible and near-infrared imaging spectrometer; and,
  • and an advanced small analyzer for neutrals (ASAN) analyzer provided by the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF) to measure the interaction of the solar winds with the lunar surface.

The lander and rover will communicate with the Chang’e 4 relay satellite, which was launched last year.











Five More Launches Scheduled for November

Rideshare launch (Credit: Spaceflight)

The following is a list of launches for the remainder of November based on Spaceflightnow.com’s Launch Schedule. The list includes two launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and one launch apiece from Xichang in China, Kourou in French Guiana, and Satish Dhawan in India.

Please check Spaceflightnow’s launch page regularly because launches tend to slip on a regular basis.

Editor’s Note: The SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for Monday has been postponed five or six days so engineers can conduct additional checks of the booster. The first stage is being flown for the third time.

November 19

Launch Vehicle: Long March 3B — SUCCESS
Payload: 2 Beidou navigation satellites
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Xichang, China

November 20/21

Launch Vehicle: Vega
Payload: Mohammed VI-B Earth observation satellite
Launch Time: 8:42 p.m. EST on 20th (0142 GMT on 21st)
Launch Site: Kourou, French Guiana
Webcast: http://www.esa.int

November 26

Launch Vehicle: PSLV
Payload: HySIS hyperspectral imaging satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India
Webcast: https://www.isro.gov.in/

November 29

Launch Vehicle: Delta 4-Heavy
Payload: NROL-71 reconnaissance satellite
Launch Time: TBA
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: https://www.ulalaunch.com/

TBD

Launch Vehicle: Falcon 9
Payload: Spaceflight, Inc. SSO-A rideshare mission
Launch Time: TBD
Launch Site: Vandenberg Air Force Base, California
Webcast: http://www.spacex.com

This flight will deploy more than 70 spacecraft from approximately 35 different organizations.











China Sets New Record for Launches in Calendar Year

China set a new national record for the number of launches in a calendar year.

A Long March 3B booster lifted off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center with two Beidou navigation satellites bound for medium Earth orbit. It was the 23rd successful launch of the year with no failures.

To date, China has launched six boosters with 11 Beidou satellites aboard in 2018. The navigation satellite system, which is similar to the U.S. Global Positioning System and Europe’s Galileo constellation, will eventually have 35 satellites in orbit.

China’s launch total for 2018 is expected to be in the low to mid-30’s.











Mid-Year Global Launch Report: China & USA Continue to Battle for Lead

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the NROL-47 mission lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: ULA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.

There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)