China to try again with SinoSat-3

by Chris Bergin

Following the failure of the recently launched SinoSat-2, China have announced they won’t be wasting any time in replacing the failed broadcasting satellite, launching SinoSat-3 in May of next year.

SinoSat-2 was successfully launched into a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO) on a Chinese Long March 3B launch vehicle on October 28, but suffered a fatal technical problem on orbit.

The satellite, which will have a lifespan of 15 years, will provide live television broadcasting services to the Chinese mainland, as well as Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan. As with SinoSat-2, the next launch will also be carried out for Direct Broadcast Satellite service (DBS) and will serve 100 million customers.

While the new SinoSat will carry out the same role its predecessor was tasked with, the satellite manufacturer has stressed SinoSat-3 will be an upgraded version of the spacecraft.

‘The company is drafting a replacement plan. The substitute satellite will not be a carbon copy of the previous one and we are expecting more technical upgrades,’ SinoSat spokesman Fan Xinming said to Chinese news site xinhuanet.

Xinming also confirmed the fatal problem with SinoSat-2 was the failure of the vital solar panels, which has the critical role of providing electrical power to the spacecraft on orbit.

SinoSat’s spokesman noted they are still in some form of communication with the failed satellite, which is in a quasi-GEO orbit, as they carry out future investigations into possible reasons for the failure.

They also defended their ability in turning around their failure into a successful mission with the new satellite that will be launched next year.

‘High risks are characteristic of the space industry. Many other satellite operators in China and overseas have suffered similar mishaps before,’ he added. ‘The research and preparation for the new satellite have been going smoothly.

‘We will not lose confidence in the domestic space manufacturing industry despite the setback.’

The launch of SinoSat-3 will also be carried out by the Long March 3B launch vehicle, a multi-stage vehicle, which is China’s largest in terms of Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) capability. It can send 5,100-kg useful load into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

China is expected to reach the Plateau of their 100th launch in 2007.

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