Long March 2D launches SuperView duo

by Rui C. Barbosa

The second pair of Gaojing-1 (SuperView-1) satellites were launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on Tuesday. This was the first launch of 2018 for China and took place at 03:24 UTC from the LC9 launch complex using a Long March-2D launch vehicle.

Also known as SuperView-1, the Gaojing-1 is a satellite constellation for civilian remote sensing use that will be operated by the Beijing Space View Tech Co Ltd, Beijing.

Beijing Space View Technology Co., Ltd. is a government certified Hi-Tech Enterprise. It is controlled by China Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co., Ltd. Based on various satellite data and industry requirements, the company offers customized geospatial solutions on demand of various vertical markets, including mapping, land use & planning, energy exploration, maritime, security, defense & intelligence, media, engineering construction, forestry, agriculture etc.

Authorized by the Chinese government, Space View is the exclusive distributor of Chinese EO satellite data including Gaofen-2, Gaofen-1, Ziyuan-3, Huanjing-1A&B, as well as some other satellites. Siwei WorldView Technology (Beijing) Co., Ltd. is a joint venture founded by China Siwei Surveying and Mapping Technology Co., Ltd, DigitalGlobe Inc. and Navinfo. It is main distributor in China for DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1, 2 & 3, GeoEye-1, QuickBird and IKONOS, Korean KOMPSAT-2, 3, 3A & 5, Japanese ALOS, ALOS-2, Spanish Deimos-1 & 2, and Kazakhstan KazEOSat-1 etc.

The SuperView-1 constellation will comprise four satellites orbiting in the same orbital plane and at an altitude of 500 km.  The satellites will provide imagery with 0.5 m panchromatic resolution and 2 m multispectral resolution with a swath width of 12 km.

SuperView-1 satellite

The satellites will operate with multiple collection modes including long strip, multiple strips collect, multiple point targets collect and stereo imaging. The maximum single scene can be 60 km × 70 km.

By the year 2022, the full constellation will be completed, comprising of 16+4+4+X multi-sensor commercial high-resolution satellite constellation with strong capability to provide data and services to clients across the world. The full constellation will have 16 optical satellites with 0.5 resolution, 4 satellites with resolution better than 0.5, 4 VHR X-band SAR satellites and multiple micro video and hyperspectral satellites.

The SuperView-1 constellation works in multiple modes, such as imaging at nadir, rolling imaging, long strip, multiple strips collect, multiple point targets collect and stereo imaging.

The multiple strips collect is able to realize high-resolution surveying and mapping with large swath width, and the stereo imaging mode will bring large opportunities for EDM production. The SuperView services will be totally commercial and will customize data collection services and develop derived products based on marketing demands.

SuperView survey photo

The Gaojing-1 satellites are based on the CAST3000B satellite platform. This light agile platform was designed and developed by the China SpaceSat Co. Ltd. of Beijing (Dongfanghong Satellite Co. Ltd.), the commercial subsidiary of CAST (Chinese Academy of Space Technology) which belongs to CASC (China Aerospace and Science Corporation), the main contractor for China’s space program. The satellites are equipped with a pair of solar panel wings, each with two solar panels. The satellites have a launch mass of 560 kg and a design life of 8 years.

The Chang Zheng-2D launch vehicle is a two-stage rocket developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology. With storable propellants is mainly used to launch a variety of low earth orbit satellites.

The development of CZ-2D was started in February 1990. From 2002, to meet the demand of SSO satellites, the payload fairing of 3350mm in diameter and attitude control engine for second stage have been successfully developed; and the discharge of remaining propellant and de-orbit of the second stage have been realized. This launcher is mainly used for launching LEO and SSO satellites. It is characterized by high reliability, wide application and mature technology.

The CZ-2D can launch a 1,300 kg cargo in a 645 km SSO. The rocket is 41.056m long and the first, second stages and payload fairing are all 3.35m in diameter.

Its first stage is the same of the CZ-4 Chang Zheng-4. The second stage is based on CZ-4 second stage with an improved equipment bay. Lift-off mass is 232,250 kg, total length 41,056 meters, diameter 3.35 meters and fairing length 6.983 meters. At launch, it develops 2961.6kN engine thrust.

The first stage has a 27.910 meter length with a 3.35 meter diameter, consuming 183,200 kg of N2O4 / UDMH (launch mass of the first stage is 192,700 kg). Equipped with a YF-21C engine capable of a ground thrust of 2,961.6 kN and a ground specific impulse of 2,550 m/s. Burn time is 170 seconds.

The second stage has a 10.9 meter length with a 3.35 meter diameter, launch mass of 39,550 kg and consuming 45,550 kg of N2O4 / UDMH. Equipped with a YF-24C cluster engine with a main engine vacuum thrust of 742.04 kN and a vernier engine with a vacuum thrust of 47.1 kN (specific impulses of 2,942 m/s and 2,834 m/s, respectively).

The CZ-2D can use two types of fairings depending on the cargo. Type A fairing has a 2.90 meters diameter (total launch vehicle length is 37.728 meters) and Type B fairing with a diameter of 3.35 meters – total launch vehicle length is 41.056 meters.

The first launch of the CZ-2D was on August 9th, 1992 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center orbiting the Fanhui Shei Weixing FSW-2-1 (22072 1992-051A) recoverable satellite.

The launch took place from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC). Situated in the Kelan County in the northwest part of the Shanxi Province, TSLC is also known by the Wuzhai designation. It is used mainly for polar launches (meteorological, Earth resources and scientific satellites).

The launch center has two single-pad launch complexes, a technical area for rocket and spacecraft preparations, a communications center, a mission command and control center, and a space tracking center.

The stages of the rocket were transported to the launch center by railway and offloaded at a transit station south of the launch complex. They were then transported by road to the technical area for checkout procedures.

Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center

The launch vehicles were assembled on the launch pad by using a crane at the top of the umbilical tower to hoist each stage of the vehicle in place. Satellites were airlifted to the Taiyuan Wusu Airport about 300km away and then transported to the center by road.

The TT&C Centre, also known as Lüliang Command Post, is headquartered in the city of Taiyuan, It has four subordinate radar tracking stations in Yangqu (Shanxi), Lishi (Shanxi), Yulin (Shaanxi), and Hancheng (Shaanxi).

Two days after the Gaojing-1 launch, China will orbit two new navigation satellites for the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) component of the 3rd phase of the Chinese Beidou (Compass) satellite navigation system. The satellites are part of a fleet that will expand the system to a global navigation coverage.

Launch is scheduled for 2230 UTC and will use a Long March 3B/Y1 launch vehicle from the LC2 Launch Complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

It is expected that the Beidou-3MEO3 (Beidou-26) and Beidou-3MEO4 (Beidou-27) satellites will be onboard, but a TV news report following last November’s BDS launch – featuring the satellite production facility in Shanghai – referred that the two satellites about to be shipped were marked as “M7 & M8”. So, we will have to wait what designation is given to the satellites when in orbit.

A new satellite in the Ludikancha Weixing series may also be riding into orbit on January 13. A NOTAM issued recently is very similar to the previous notices issued for similar launches. So, Ludikancha Weixing-3 might be launched around 07:20UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on January 13.

The Ludikancha Weixing satellites are very high-resolution earth observation satellites. Operating in 500 km polar orbits, the satellites are possibly military in nature. We can expect another satellite in the series to be launched in 2018.

Joining Ludikancha Weixing-3 on its ride to orbit will the Saudi Arabian SaudiSAT-5B remote sensing satellite.

We can also expect the launch of a Long March-11 rocket with multiple passengers on January 19 and the launch of the new Yaogan Weixing-30 trio on January 29

The third launch of the Long March-11 solid fuel rocket is expected on January 19 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The launcher will carry nine satellites: the Dequing-1 (Jilin 1-07) and Jilin 1-08 for commercial remote sensing satellite for high definition video; the Xiaoxiang-2 (TY-2 Tianyi-2) to Xiaoxiang-5 (TY-5 Tianyi-5) commercial research nanosatellites that were developed by Spacety Aerospace Co. at the Changsha Gaoxinqu Tianyi Research Institute in Hunan; the Huaian CubeSat-2U developed by undergraduate students that will take pictures of the Earth surface and to store and forward voice messages; and the small CubeSat-3U Kepler communications satellite to be operated by Kepler Communications that plans to use 10 to 15 satellites in polar orbits. Also on board will a small satellite named Quantutong-1.

The fourth group of Yaogan Weixing-30 satellites is scheduled to be launched on January 29 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center using a Long March-2C launch vehicle. Also designated CX-5 Chuangxin-5, the satellites are possibly set for SIGINT missions.

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