Chinese Kuaizhou-1A rocket launches several small satellites

by Rui C. Barbosa

China orbited three small satellites using the Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) launch vehicle from the Jiuquan Launch Center. The launch was originally scheduled for the last day of 2016. However, the launch was delayed without notice and without specific reasons.

Chinese Launch:

Launch took place at 04:11 UTC on January 9 and comes after the first contract was signed between Chang Guang SatelliteTechnology Ltd (CGSTL) and EXPACE/CASIC. Expace Technology Co., Ltd.

A subsidiary of China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp, it is specialized in R&D, manufacturing and marketing of the Kuaizhou series launch vehicle to provide cost-effective, reliable and accurate commercial launch service for customers all over the world.

The first launch of the Kuaizhou-1A launch vehicle orbited the Jilin Linye-1 forestry satellite and two small CubeSats-2U: the Xingyun Shiyan-1 and the Kaidun-1 ‘Caton-1’.

The Jilin Linye-1 (Lingqiao Shipin 03) satellite is a remote sensing satellite for high definition video designed to capture videos with a ground resolution better than 1,0 meters and with a swath of 11 km × 4.5 km. The operation life of the mission is 3 years and the satellite will be used for forestry monitoring.

Xingyun Shiyan- 1 was developed by the CASIC 9th Academy. XYSY-1 is described as a satellite that will be testing low Earth orbit narrow-band communication downlink technologies.

Developed by the Beijing Caton Universal Technology Ltd., Kaidun-1 ‘Caton-1’ is a CubeSat-2U that will be used for ship traffic management and probably carrying an AIS ship-tracking receiver.

The satellite will also help to implement a security monitoring system for navigation at sea, using intelligent sensors, intelligent communication equipment, intelligent lighting and other navigation products to help navigation.

The Kuaizhou-1A is a high reliability, high precision and low cost solid launch vehicle developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASIC) and commercialized by the China Space Sanjiang Group Corporation (EXPACE).

The launch vehicle can send a 200kg payload into a 700km sun-synchronous orbit. It mainly offers the service of sending a small satellite into Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to domestic and international customers.

The vehicle is possible based on the road mobile DF-21 missile adding two additional upper stages. There are no apparent differences between the KZ-1A (previous commercially available as the FT-1 Feitian-1) and the KZ-1 launch vehicle.

The difference, though, can be explained by the fact that with KZ-1 the payload remains attached to the fourth liquid stage, while the KZ-1A is used for multiple payloads.

The KZ-1A solid launch vehicle adopts a mobile launch platform, integrated power supply equipment, test and launch control facilities, aiming facility and temperature control facility, to carry vehicle from technical support center to launch site, complete temperature control of payload, vehicle test and launch.

KZ-1A launch vehicle is 20 meter long with lift-off mass of 30 tons, and its maximum diameter is 1.4 meter. The vehicle’s power is provided by three solid motors and one liquid motor

The solid propulsion system consists of three solid vehicle motors to provide power during first stage flight, second stage flight and third stage flight. All of the three solid motors choose single fixed nozzle, and do not shut off until the propellant is exhausted.

First stage motor is 1,40 meters in diameter, having a total mass of 16,621 kg, a burn time of 65 seconds and an impulse of 2,352 Ns/kg. The Second stage motor is 1,40 meters in diameter, having a total mass of 8,686 kg, a burn time of 62 seconds and an impulse of 2,810 NS/kg. The Third stage motor is 1,20 meters in diameter, having a total mass of 3,183 kg, a burn time of 55 seconds and an impulse of 2,850 NS/kg.

The vehicle can be used with two kinds of fairings having a diameter of 1.2 and 1.4 meters according to the space demand of cargo to be orbited.

KZ-1A is launched from a mobile platform. The Mobile Launch Platform mainly includes transport and launch vehicle, test and fire control equipment, aiming equipment, etc.

The MLP transfers the vehicle from technological area to launching area, also providing temperature and environment control of payload, vehicle test and launching by using power supply equipment, test and fire control equipment, aiming equipment, temperature control device, which are integrated into the platform. The transport and launch vehicle employs a semi-trailer which is usually used for transporting container.

The usual launch profile sees the first stage separation taking place 1 minute and 23 seconds after launch. The second stage separation takes place at 2 minutes 21 seconds after launch, and the fairing jettisoning 15 seconds after second stage separation.

Ignition of the third stage occurs at 192 seconds into the flight, ending 1 minute 32 seconds later. Three seconds after third stage separation, the fourth and last stage gives the last kick into orbit, with a burn duration of 12 minutes and 45 seconds. Spacecraft separation takes place 17 minutes and 40 seconds after launch.

The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in Ejin-Banner – a county in Alashan League of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region – was the first Chinese satellite launch center and is also known as the Shuang Cheng Tze launch center.

The site includes a Technical Centre, two Launch Complexes, Mission Command and Control Centre, Launch Control Centre, propellant fuelling 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. It is also the place from where all the Chinese manned missions are launched.

The LC-43 launch complex, also known by South Launch Site (SLS) is equipped with two launch pads: 921 and 603. Launch pad 921 is used for the manned program for the launch of the Chang Zheng-2F launch vehicle (Shenzhou and Tiangong). The 603 launch pad is used for unmanned orbital launches by the Chang Zheng-2C, Chang Zheng-2D and Chang Zheng-4C launch vehicles.

Once the launcher stages are ready on the test and verification facility, they are transported by truck to the launch pad where they are stacked together and the fueling umbilicals are attached to the rocket. Technicians can access the different stages through the service platforms that embrace the launcher at the launch platform.
Other launch zones at the launch site are used for launching the Kuaizhou and the CZ-11 Chang Zheng-11 solid propellant launch vehicles.

The first orbital launch took place on April 24, 1970 when the CZ-1 Chang Zheng-1 rocket launched the first Chinese satellite, the Dongfanghong-1 (04382 1970-034A).

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