China opens 2010 with BeiDou-2 satellite launch

by Rui C. Barbosa

The Chinese have opened their 2010 campaign by orbiting a navigation satellite via a CZ-3C Chang Zheng-3C (CZ3C-3) launch vehicle from the Xi Chang satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province. Previously scheduled to take place last year, the launch of the new BeiDou-2 (Compass-G1) finally took place at 16:12 UTC on Saturday.

First Chinese Launch of 2010:

The Compass constellation will consist of approximately 35 vehicles, including 30 MEO satellites, with nine satellites for each orbit plane and five GSO satellites.

The satellites – developed from the DFH-3 satellite platform – will transmit signals on the following carrier frequencies: 1195.14-1219.14MHz, 1256.52-1280.52MHz, 1559.05-1563.15MHz and 1587.69-1591.79MHz. Some of the signals overlay the Galileo PRS band and the GPS M-code.

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 system will initially provide high-accuracy positioning services for users in China and its neighboring regions, covering an area of about 120 degrees longitude in the Northern Hemisphere. The long-term goal is to develop a global navigation satellite network similar to the GPS and GLONASS.

Like the American and Russian counterparts, CNSS will have a civilian service that has an accuracy of 10 meters in the user position, 0.2 m/s on the user velocity and 50 nanoseconds in time accuracy; along with the military and authorized users service – providing higher accuracies.

The first phase of the project will aim for full coverage of the Chinese territory, before the Compass constellation eventually covers the entire globe.

Previous BeiDou satellites were launched on October 30, 2000 ‘BeiDou-1A’ (Catalogue Number: 26599 International Designation: 2000-069A); December 20, 2000 ‘BeiDou-1B’ (26643 2000-082A); May 24, 2003 ‘BeiDou-1C’ (27813 2003-021A); February 2, 2007 ‘BeiDou-1D’ (30323 2007-003A); April 13, 2007 ‘BeiDou-2 Compass-M1’ (31115 2007-011A); and April 14, 2009 ‘BeiDou-2 Compass-G2’ (34779 2009-018A).

This was the third flight of the CZ-3C Chang Zheng-3C launch vehicle. This rocket was developed to fill the gap between the CZ-3A Chang Zheng-3A and the CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B, having a payload capacity of 3,800 kg for GTO. This is a three stage launch vehicle, identical to the CZ-3B with only two strap-on boosters on its first stage.

The development of the CZ-3C started in February 1999. The rocket has a liftoff 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-3A is 54.838 meters, with a diameter of 3.35 meters on the core stage and 3.00 meters on the third stage.

The first launch of the CZ-3C Chang Zheng-3C launch vehicle took place on April 25, 2008 when it orbited the first TL-1 Tian Lian-1 tracking and data relay satellite.

This was the 123rd successful Chinese orbital launch and the 122nd 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 52nd successful orbital launch from Xi Chang.

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