China conducted its second orbital launch of 2019 using a Long March 11 rocket – this time carrying four satellites into orbit. The launch took place from a mobile launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 05:42 UTC on Monday, per one of the payload customers – later confirmed by Chinese State media.
Onboard the LM-11 (Y6) rocket were two Jilin commercial remote sensing satellites for hyperspectral observation. The two satellites arrived at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center later on January 3 ahead of Monday’s launch.
The Jilin-1 constellation was developed in China’s Jilin Province and is the country’s first self-developed remote sensing satellite for commercial use. It consists of several satellites that will provide data to commercial clients to help them forecast and mitigate geological disasters, as well as shorten the timescale for the exploration of natural resources.
Jilin, one of the country’s oldest industrial bases, is developing its satellite industry in a new economic drive. The province plans to launch 60 satellites by 2020 and 138 by 2030.
The first phase of the constellation saw the launch of the first three Jilin-1 satellites (that are also known as Lingqiao-1). Jilin 1-01 and Jilin 1-02 were launched on October 7, 2015, by a Long March-2D launch vehicle out of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, while Jilin 1-03 was launched on January 9, 2017, using a Kuaizhou-1A solid launch vehicle.
Jilin 1-04 to Jilin 1-06 were launched on November 21, 2017, by a Long March-6 rocket from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
Jilin 1-07 and -08 were launched on January 19, 2018.
Between 2018 and 2019 there are plans to have 16 satellites in orbit, completing a remote sensing network that will cover the entire globe and will be capable of a three to four hours update in the data provided. From 2020, the plans point to a 60 satellites orbital constellation capable of a 30 minutes update in the data provided.
From 2030, the Jilin constellation will have 138 satellites in orbit, forming an all-day, all-weather, full spectrum acquisition segment data and a capability of observing any global arbitrary point with 10 minutes revisit capability, providing the world’s highest spatial resolution and time resolution space information products.
The Jilin-1 remote sensing satellites are designed to capture videos with a ground resolution better than 1.0 meters and with a swath of 11 km × 4.5 km. The operational lifespan of the satellites is 3 years. The launch mass is 95 kg.
Also called ‘Jilin Lincao-1’ (Jilin-1 Hyperspectral-01) and ‘Wenchang Chaosun-1’ (Jilin-1 Hyperspectral-02), the two new satellites are hyperspectral satellites independently developed by Changguang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd.
The satellite ‘Jilin Lincao-1 fully inherits the mature stand-alone and technical basis of the “Jilin-1” satellite, and is equipped with multi-spectral imager, short-wave, medium-wave and long-wave infrared camera, Shuiyuan-1 system for water management and other payloads.
The onboard intelligent processing system can obtain 5 meter resolution, 110 km width images with 26 imaging channels of remote sensing data. ‘Jilin Lincao-1 will provide remote sensing data and product services to users of forestry, grassland, shipping, oceanographic, resources and environment in the same way as the ten “Jilin No. 1” satellites launched previously.
Wenchang Chaosun-1 is the first commercial remote sensing satellite to be dedicated to Hainan Island and the South China Sea and will be operational at the end of March.
The satellite was jointly developed by Hainan Modern Science and Technology Group – a subsidiary of Wenchang Aerospace Supercomputing Big Data Industry Cluster Project, Qingdao Wanguo Yunshang Internet Industry Co., Ltd. and Changguang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd.
Depending on the translator you use the (Wenchang Supercomputer No. 1) / (Wenchang Super Counting) / (Wenchang Super One) commercial remote sensing satellite will be launched on top of a Long March 11 rocket from Jiuquan on the 21st.
— LaunchStuff (@LaunchStuff) January 3, 2019
The satellite has three main functions: optical remote sensing, ship AIS message reception, and on-orbit AI processing. It can realize large-area fast coverage, global ship AIS message data rapid update and on-orbit intelligent information processing function for oceanographic monitoring, ecological monitoring, port monitoring, ship monitoring, etc.
The satellite will also be used for agriculture, forestry, environment, water transport management and other fields, and will greatly improve the information acquisition capabilities of Hainan Island, South China Sea and Southeast Asia.
Some sources point to the presence of a small 6U CubeSat on board this launch, but there is no information available about its nature or purpose.
Although it was advertised as three satellites for this mission, a fourth was confirmed after launch.
That announcement named Lingque 1A and Xiaoxiang-1 03.
“Lingque 1A is from ZeroG Lab and is the first satellite in a global constellation for Earth observation. Xiaoxiang-1 03 is from SpaceTy and will test a micro pan-chromatic camera and a deorbit drag sail,” it was stated.
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. The 95 launch pad is being 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-