China conducted another orbital launch using a Long March-11 solid fuel rocket on Friday. The launch took place from a mobile launch platform from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 23:51 UTC.
Onboard the LM-11 rocket was the first Hongyun satellite.
Developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), this is the fist satellite of a vast space-based communications network capable of covering every corner on the Earth, including the Arctic and Antarctica. The satellite mission is to verify low-orbit broadband communication technologies to be used on the Hongyun satellite constellation.
Announced by CASIC in September 2016, the Hongyun project has the goal of building a space-based communications network of 156 communications satellites into low Earth orbit, at an altitude of 160 to 2,000 km. Each satellite of the network will be able to transmit 500 megabytes of data per second. It will become operational in 2022.
After the tests with the first Hongyun satellite, another four satellites will be launched by the end of 2020 to form a small network for the project’s trial run. Operational satellites will be launched after the first tests of the baseline network prove successful.
When the Hongyun project is complete, it will cover the whole world and offer round-the-clock communication services to users in polar regions, who now have difficulties accessing telecommunication and internet services, even from on board an aircraft or a ship or in a remote area.
The Hongyun system will feature lower production and operational costs and fewer occurrences of data transmission delays compared with existing communication satellite networks.
The Hongyun project will achieve global coverage with communications, navigation, remote sensing and other functions, supplying application demands, including sensor data acquisition, industrial Internet of Things, and remote control of unmanned vehicles.
The satellites are developed and constructed at the CASIC Second Academy’s Wuhan National Space Industry Base, in Hubei province.
The Long March-11 (Chang Zheng-11) is a small solid-fueled quick-reaction launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) with the goal to provide an easy to operate quick-reaction launch vehicle, that can remain in storage for long period and to provide a reliable launch on short notice.
LM-11 is a four stage solid-fueled launch vehicle equipped with a reaction control system on the fourth stage.
The vehicle has a length of 20.8 meters, 2.0 meters in diameter and a liftoff mass of 58,000 kg. At launch it develops 120.000 kg/f, launching a 350 kg cargo into a 700 km SSO. The CZ-11 can use two types of fairing with 1.6 meters or 2.0 meters.
LM-11’s first launch took place on September 25, 2015, when successfully orbited the Pujiang-1 and the three Tianwang small sats from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
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.
Area 43 is the overall designation for the South Launch Area that is equipped with two launch pads: 91 and 94 (sometimes also designated 603).
Launch Pad 91 is used for the manned program for the launch of the Chang Zheng-2F launch vehicle (Shenzhou and Tiangong). The 94 launch pad is used for unmanned orbital launches by the Chang Zheng-2C, Chang Zheng-2D and Chang Zheng-4C launch vehicles.
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).