China opens 2016 campaign with Long March 3B launch of Belintersat-1

by Rui C. Barbosa

The Chinese have conducted their first orbital launch of 2016 with the lofting of a new communications satellite for Belarus. Belintersat-1 was launched at 16:57 UTC on Friday via a Long March 3B/G2 rocket. The launch was conducted from the Xichang’s Satellite Launch Center’s LC3 pad.

Chinese Launch:

Belintersat-1 is based on the Chinese DFH-4 bus, with the communications payload being supplied by Thales Alenia Space.

The satellite is equipped with 20 C-band transponders (36 MHz), 18 Ku-band transponders (36MHz) and 4 enhanced Ku-band transponders (54 MHz). The satellite will be operational at the 51.5 degrees East longitude on the geostationary orbit. Operational lifetime is expected to be 15 years.

Some of the transponders on board Belintersat-1 have been sold to China Satcom, being marketed under the designation ZX-15 Zhongxing-15 (or ChinaSat-15).

2016-01-15-041846The creation of the National System of Satellite Communication and Broadcast of the Republic of Belarus is the largest project in the field of telecommunications, implemented by the Republic of Belarus.

The project is considered of high innovative, economic, social and political importance, providing a full range of advanced satellite services in Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as to ensure global coverage in the Eastern Hemisphere.

For the commercial and government institutions in the territory of the Republic of Belarus, the Belintersat project will be providing a number of widely demanded services that will include: satellite Internet; mobile satellite communication; solutions for mobile operators; corporate networks provisioning; and live TV broadcasting.

The Presidential Decree that led to the project identified a series of main objectives to the project, ranging from the creation of a communication satellite through to fostering modern communication technology to the remote areas at affordable prices.

The history of the project begun with a closed tender won by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC). Initially signed on September 2011, the autumn of 2012 saw the conclusion of the contract with the CGWIC for the supply of the National System of Satellite Communication and Broadcast of the Republic of Belarus. The Export-Import Bank of China was consequently resorted to for the raising of funding.

According to the signed contract, the new satellite would be manufactured on the basis of the DFH Dongfanghong series of platforms designed and developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and would be launched by an LM-3B launch vehicle provided by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XSLC). China Satellite Launch & Tracking Control General (CLTC) would undertake the launch and TT&C operation.

On December 30, 2015, the Nigerian Communication Satellite (NigComSat) Limited, a company under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, announced in Abuja that had won a bid to provide in-orbit test (IOT) and carrier spectrum monitoring (CSM) services for Belintersat-1 satellite.

2016-01-15-041753With this, NigComSat will be able to provide more broadband services, enterprise solutions, secured communications and etc., over Nigeria and other 35 African countries, including Ghana, Cameroon, Mali and others. Additional communication services will also be offered to the security agencies.

DFH-4 is the third generation communications satellite bus in China with high power, strong payload capacity and extended service life. It consists of a propulsion module, service modules and solar arrays. Its dimensions are 2.360m×2.100m×3.600m, with a liftoff mass of 5,200 kg. Solar Array Power is 10.5 kW (EOL) and payload power is 8 kW. The platform can be equipped with C, Ku, Ka and L transponders.

DFH-4 uses a 3-axis stabilization mode and its station keeping precision is west/east ±0.05° and north/south ±0.05°. The Antenna Pointing Precision is <0.1°. Service lifetime in orbit is 15 years.

Launch vehicle and launch site:

To meet the demand of international satellite launch market, especially for high power and heavy communications satellites, the development of Long March-3B (Chang Zheng-3B) launch vehicle was started in 1986 on the basis of the fight proven technology of Long March launch vehicles.

2015-12-28-161353Developed from the Chang Zheng-3A, the Chang Zheng-3B is at the moment the most powerful launch vehicle on 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 that provide additional help during the first phase of the launch.

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 CZ-3B/G2 (Enhanced Version) launch vehicle was developed from the CZ-3B with a lengthened first core stage and strap-on boosters, increasing the GTO capacity up to 5,500kg.

On May 14, 2007, the first flight of CZ-3B/G2 was performed successfully, accurately sending the NigcomSat-1 into pre-determined orbit. With the GTO launch capability of 5,500kg, CZ-3B/G2 is dedicated for launching heavy GEO communications satellite.

The rocket structure also combines all sub-systems together and is composed of four strap-on boosters, a first stage, a second stage, a third stage and payload fairing.

2015-09-12-163210The first two stages as well as the four strap-on boosters use hypergolic (N2O4/UDMH) fuel while the third stage uses cryogenic (LOX/LH2) fuel. The total length of the CZ-3B is 54.838 meters, with a diameter of 3.35 meters on the core stage and 3.00 meters on the third stage.

On the first stage, the CZ-3B uses a YF-21C engine with a 2,961.6 kN thrust and a specific impulse of 2,556.5 Ns/kg. The first stage diameter is 3.35 m and the stage length is 23.272 m.

Each strap-on booster is equipped with a YF-25 engine with a 740.4 kN thrust and a specific impulse of 2,556.2 Ns/kg. The strap-on booster diameter is 2.25 m and the strap-on booster length is 15.326 m.

2015-09-12-164401The second stage is equipped with a YF-24E (main engine – 742 kN / 2,922.57 Ns/kg; four vernier engines – 47.1 kN / 2,910.5 Ns/kg each). The second stage diameter is 3.35 m and the stage length is 12.920 m.

The third stage is equipped with a YF-75 engine developing 167.17 kN and with a specific impulse of 4,295 Ns/kg. The fairing diameter of the CZ-3B is 4.00 meters and has a length of 9.56 meters.

The CZ-3B can also use the Yuanzheng-1 (“Expedition-1″) upper stage that uses a small thrust 6.5 kN engine burning UDMH/N2O4 with the specific impulse at 3,092 m/s. The upper stage is able to conduct two burns, having a 6.5 hour lifetime and is capable of achieving a variety of orbits. This upper stage was not used on this launch.

2015-11-03-014940Typical flight sequence for the CZ-3B/G2 sees the launch pitching over 10 seconds after liftoff from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre. Boosters shutdown 2 minutes and 7 seconds after liftoff, separation from the first stage one second latter. First stage shutdown takes place at 1 minutes 25 seconds into the flight.

The separation between the first and second stage takes place at 1 minute 26 seconds, following fairing separation at T+3 minutes 35 seconds. Stage 2 main engine shutdown occurs 326 seconds into the flight, following by the shutdown of the vernier engines 15 seconds later.

The separation between the second and the third stage and the ignition of the third stage takes place one second after the shutdown of the vernier engines of the second stage. The first burn of the third stage will last for 4 minutes and 44 seconds.

After the end of the first burn of the third stage follows a coast phase that ends at T+20 minutes and 58 seconds with the third stage initiating its second burn. This will have a 179 seconds duration. After the end of the second burn of the third stage, the launcher initiates a 20 second velocity adjustment maneuver. Spacecraft separation usually takes place at T+25 minutes 38 seconds after launch.

2015-07-25-130117The Xichang 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.

The CZ-3B launch pad is located at 28.25 deg. N – 102.02 deg. E and at an elevation of 1,825 meters.

Other facilities on the Xichang 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 Xichang took place at 12:25UTC on January 29, 1984, when the Chang Zheng-3 (Y-1) was launched the Shiyan Weixing (14670 1984-008A) communications satellite into orbit.

Related Articles