China successfully launched the Yaogan Weixing-32 Group-1 mission – consisting of two satellites – from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Tuesday. The launch took place from Launch Pad 94 of the LC43 launch complex using a Long March-2C launch vehicle.
The Yaogan Weixing-32 Group-1 mission is composed of two satellites that supposedly will be used for remote sensing purposes by the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.
The official announcement of the launch noted that “the satellites have entered their planned orbits and will be used for electromagnetic environment surveys and other related technology tests.”
In previous missions, the designation of the Yaogan Weixing series was used to hide the true military nature of the satellites.
This was the first use of the new Yuanzheng-1S (Expedition-1S) upper stage. The Long March-2C is capable of carrying 1.2 tonnes to a 700 kilometer Sun-synchronous orbit, but with the new upper stage the payload capacity is increased to two tonnes. The new upper stage is capable of multiple burns to place satellites in different 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, with some launched also taking place from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
The launch vehicle has three configurations. The basic two stage Long March-2C and the Long March-2C/SMA and the Long March-2C/SM, using upper stages.
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. It 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.
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 as South Launch Site (SLS) is equipped with two launch pads: 91 and 94. Launch pad 91 is used for the manned program for the launch of the Long March-2F launch vehicle (Shenzhou and Tiangong). Launch pad 94 is used for unmanned orbital launches by the Long March-2C, Long March-2D and Long March-4C launch vehicles.
Other launch zones at the launch site are used for launching the Kuaizhou, Kaituo and the Long March-11 solid propellant launch vehicles.
The first orbital launch took place on April 24, 1970 when the Long March-1 rocket launched the first Chinese satellite, the Dongfanghong-1 (04382 1970-034A).
Next in line for China will be the launch of a new meteorological satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The Fengyun-2H satellite will be orbited by a Long March-3A launch vehicle.
October will be a particular busy month for China aiming to a launch record year. Next orbital launch will take place from Xichang with another pair of Beidou-3M satellites to be orbited by a Long March-3B/YZ-1 launch vehicle.
The first launch of the private Zhuque-1 launch vehicle will take place on October 27, orbiting the CCTV’s Weilai-1 small satellite for space science experiments and remote sensing out of Wenchang Space Launch Center.
The CFOSAT (China-France Oceanography SATellite) will be launched on October 29 from Jiuquan using a Long March-2C launch vehicle. The CFOSAT should be accompanied by some small satellites like Zhaojin-1 and Hongyan-1.
Also in October, we should expect the launch of the Haiyang-2B oceanographic satellite out of Taiyuan using a Long March-4B launch vehicle.