Long March 3B launches with ChinaSat-10

by Rui C. Barbosa

China has launched the ZX-10 ZhongXing-10 – also designated ChinaSat-10, Sinosat-5 or Xinnuo-5 – domestic communications satellite on Monday (16:13 UTC) from the Xi Chang Satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province. The launch was conducted by China’s Long March 3B (CZ-3B/E Chang Zheng-3B/E) launch vehicle.

Chinese Launch:

The new satellite – which will be positioned at 110.5 degrees East – was manufactured by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), after being ordered in 2006. The launch was announced well in advance by the Chinese media, given the mission is civilian, unlike a large amount of Chinese launches.

The spacecraft is based on the DFH-4 platform, with a launch mass of 5,100 kg – and will be operated by China Satcom. It will replace the ZhongXing-5B (Xinnuo-1, Chinasat-5B) satellite, which was launched on July 18, 1998.

The DFH-4 (DongFangHong-4) platform is a large “next generation” telecommunications satellite platform, with a power output and communication capacity which ranks highly alongside other international advanced satellite platforms. It can also be used to tracking and data relay satellites, regional mobile communication satellites, etc.

With a design liftime of 15 years, the platform comprises propulsion module, service module and two six meter solar arrays. It has a payload capacity of 588 kg and an output power of 10.5 kW.

The satellite is equipped with 30 C-band and 16 Ku-band transponders (provided by Thales Alenia Space), three receiver antennas, and two transmission antennas. The DFH-4 can support the transmission of 150-200 TV programs simultaneously to ground users using a 0.45m antenna device.

Strangely, Chinese media reported the DFH-4 satellite can also deter “telecommunication disturbances” – such as hostile jamming attacks.

Based on the CZ-3A Chang Zheng-3A, the CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B is the most powerful launch vehicle in the Chinese space launch fleet.

The CZ-3B features enlarged launch propellant tanks, improved computer systems, a larger 4.2 meter diameter payload fairing and the addition of four strap-on boosters in the core stage – which provide additional power during the first stage of flight.

The rocket is capable of launching a 11,200 kg satellite to a Low Earth Orbit or a 5,100 kg cargo to a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit. The rocket has a total length of 54.84 meters and a core diameter of 3.35 meters.

The first launch of the CZ-3B took place on February 14, 1996, prior to ending in failure in what is now known has the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre”.

As seen in extended raw video (L2) of the failure and the aftermath, the vehicle took just two seconds to veer wildly off course, just missing the launch pad structure, before nose-diving into local village, killing an untold amount of people. The vehicle was not equiped with range safety destruct capability.

The first successful launch took place on August 19, 1997 when the second CZ-3B orbited the Agila-2 “Mabuhay” (24901 1997-042A) communications satellite.

In recent years, the CZ-3B/E (Enhanced Version) launch vehicle, developed from the CZ-3B, increased the GTO capacity up to 5.500kg. The CZ-3B/E has nearly the same configurations with CZ-3B, bar its enlarged core stage and boosters.

On May 14, 2007, the first flight of CZ-3B/E was performed successfully, accurately sending the NigcomSat-1 spacecraft into its pre-determined orbit.

With the GTO launch capability of 5,500kg, CZ-3B/E is China’s dedicated launch vehicle for lofting heavy GEO communications satellite uphill.

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.

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