China open 2009 schedule with BeiDou-2 (COMPASS-G2) launch

by Rui C. Barbosa

BeiDou-2 (COMPASS-G2) – China’s second geostationary navigation satellite – has launched from the Xichang satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province, via a CZ-3C Chang Zheng-3C (CZ3C-2) launch vehicle. Lift-off was at 16:16 UTC.

The launch is the first in a series of launches announced by China to form the complete Compass constellation. This constellation of satellites will consist of approximately 30 vehicles, including 27 MEO satellites, with nine satellites for each orbit plane – and four GSO satellites (58.75 degrees E, 80 degrees E, 110.5 degrees E, and 140 degrees E). The BeiDou-2 was developed from the DFH-3 satellite platform and has a lifespan of 8 years.

The Compass Navigation Satellite System (CNSS) is China’s second-generation satellite navigation system capable of providing continuous, real-time passive 3D geo-spatial positioning and speed measurement.

The first phase of the project will deal with coverage for the Chinese territory. However, a future Compass constellation will cover the entire globe.

This was the second flight of the CZ-3C Chang Zheng-3C launch vehicle. The rocket was developed to fill the gap between the CZ-3A Chang Zheng-3A and the CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B, with a payload capacity of 3800 kg for GTO. This is a three stage launch vehicle, identical to the CZ-3B, instead using two strap-on boosters on its first stage.

The development of the CZ-3C started in February 1999. The rocket has a lift-off mass of 345,000 kg. The first two stages as well as the two strap on boosters use hypergolic fuel while the third stage uses cryogenic fuel. The total length of the CZ-3C is 54.80 meters, with a diameter of 3.35 meters on the core stage and 3.00 meters on the third stage.

This was the 117th successful Chinese orbital launch and the 116th launch of a Chang Zheng launch vehicle.

The Xi Chang Satellite Launch Centre is situated in the Sichuan Province, south-western China and is the country’s launch site for geosynchronous orbital launches.

Equipped with two launch pads (LC2 and LC3), the centre has a dedicated railway and highway lead directly to the launch site. The Command and Control Centre is located seven kilometers south-west of the launch pad, providing flight and safety control during launch rehearsal and launch.

Other facilities on the Xi Chang Satellite Launch Centre are the Launch Control Centre, propellant fuelling systems, communications systems for launch command, telephone and data communications for users, and support equipment for meteorological monitoring and forecasting.

The first launch from Xi Chang took place at 12:25UTC on January 29, 1984, when the CZ-3 Chang Zheng-3 (CZ3-1) was launched the Shiyan Weixing (14670 1984-008A) communications satellite into orbit. The launch of the new BeiDou-2 satellite was the 50th successful orbital launch from Xi Chang

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