China has launched a new French-built communications satellite using its CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B launch vehicle.
The launch took place at 20:08 local time on Thursday from the LC2 launch pad at Xichang Satellite Launch Center, marking the 101st launch to be carried out by the Chinese Long March range of vehicles.
This satellite carries 38 C-band channels that will be used for television broadcast and will enable ChinaSatcom, the satellites operator, to expand its services in mainland China.
The Zhongxing-6B (ChinaSat-6B) satellite is based on the Thales Alenia Space SA4000C2 platform and has a launch mass of 4600 kg. The satellite has 8.7 kW of electrical power and will operate in geosynchronous orbit stationed at 115.5 degrees East.
The contract for the development of the Zhongxing-6B was signed on December 5th 2005 – the second contract signed between ChinaSatcom and (the previously named) Alcatel Alenia Space after the agreement to develop the Zhongxing-9 satellite.
The cooperation between Alcatel and Chinese satellite operators started in 1984 with the supply of subassemblies for Zhongxing-1. Alcatel then delivered Xinnuo-1 (SinoSat-1) in July 1998 and Apstar-6 in April 2005. Zhongxing-9 will be launched next September or October.
The Zhongxing-6B was launched by the 9th CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B rocket. The contract for this launch was signed January 20th 2006. This launch vehicle is developed by the CALT and is a three stage launcher.
Based on the CZ-3A design, the CZ-3B has enlarged propellant tanks, larger payload fairing and the first stage is also powered by four boosters.
Next in line for China is the launch of its first lunar probe, Chang’e-1, in September – the same month of the launch of the sino-brazilian satellite CBERS-2B.