After the successful completion of the Shenzhou-10 mission to the Tangong-1 orbital module, China embarked for the second half of 2013 with the successful launch of another mysterious satellite on the Shijian-11 series. The launch of Shijian 11-05 took place at 09:27UTC on Monday using a Long March 2C launch vehicle from the 603 launch pad of the LC43 launch complex from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
This is the fifth satellite of the series, following the loss of the fourth satellite after the failure of the Long March 2C on August 18, 2011.
According to the Chinese media, this mission involved an “experimental satellite” developed by the DongFangHong Satellite Company of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
As with the previous Shijian-11 satellites, the true mission of Shijian 11-05 was not revealed by the Chinese authorities. However, some observers noted that the Shijian-11 series could be related with a constellation of operational early warning satellites.
‘Shijian’ means ‘Practice’ and this series of satellites have been used with a variety of configurations and missions for scientific research and technological experiments.
The first ShiJian-11 (36088 2009-061A) was launched at 0245:04UTC on November 12, 2009 by the Chang Zheng 2C (Y21) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The second satellite on the series, ShiJian 11-03 (37730 2011-030A) was launched at 0428:03.993UTC on July 6, 2011, by the CZChang Zheng-2C (Y25), also from Jiuquan.
Shijian 11-02 (37765 2011-039A) was the third satellite in the series and was launched at 0742:03.570UTC on July 29, 2011 from Jiuquan by the Chang Zheng-2C (Y24) launch vehicle.
All satellites operate in typical 705 by 690 km, 98.1 degrees orbits.
The Chang Zheng 2C (Long March 2C) is a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) launch vehicle derived from DF-5 ICBM. It can be launched from either the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center or the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
The rocket is a two stage hypergolic launch vehicle with a total length of 35.15 meters, a diameter of 3.35 meters and a total mass of 192,000 kg. The first stage is equipped with four YF-20A engines. Is has a length of 20.52 meters and a burn time of 122 seconds.
The second stage is equipped with one YF-22A engine, and has a length of 7.50 meters with a burn time of 130 seconds.
This launch was the 178th Chinese orbital launch, the 178th launch of the Chang Zheng launch vehicle family. It was also the 59th orbital launch from the Jiuquan Satellite launch Center and the fourth orbital launch from China this year.
The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, also known as the Shuang Cheng Tze launch center, was the first Chinese satellite launch center.
The site includes a Technical Center, two Launch Complexes, Mission Command and Control Center, Launch Control Center, propellant fueling systems, tracking and communication systems, gas supply systems, weather forecast systems, and logistic support systems.
Jiuquan was originally used to launch scientific and recoverable satellites into medium or low earth orbits at high inclinations.
The 603 Launch Platform for unmanned satellite launches is part of the Launch Complex 43 that also includes the 912 Launch Pad for the manned program. Apart of the launch pads, the launch complex has a technical center where take place the preparations of the launch vehicle and spacecraft.
The technical center is composed of the launch vehicle processing and vertical assembly building, spacecraft processing buildings, solid rocket motor processing building, buildings for liquid-propellant storage and processing and the launch control center.