Kuaizhou-1A lofts two satellites for China

by Rui C. Barbosa

The Chinese launched two new small satellites from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in a mission managed by the Expace company. The launch took place at 23:41UTC on Friday, using the Kuaizhou-1A (Y10) rocket.

Onboard the solid fuelled launch vehicle was the KX-09 and the Xiaoxiang 1-07 satellites.

Developed by the DFH Satellite Co., the microgravity experimental satellite KX-09 (supposedly Kuxue-09) will conduct studies in microgravity. Established in August 2001, DFH Satellite Co., Ltd. is mainly engaged in system R&D, design, integration and in-orbit service of small satellites. It is subordinated to China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and wholly owned by the listed company China Spacesat Co., Ltd.

In October 2001, the State Council approved the National Development and Reform Committee’s proposition of building the National Engineering Research Center of Small Satellites and Applications, one of the world’s largest research centers of the kind, with DFH Satellite Co. as its legal entity.

About one-third of the currently in-orbit Chinese satellites were produced by DFH Satellite Co. Based on independently developed platforms CAST968, CAST2000, CAST100 and CAST100+ applicable to satellites from 10kg to 1,000 kg in mass, the company launched more than 60 satellites, among which 37 satellites launched during the past 5 years and 52 satellites still in orbit, used in the fields of ocean observation environment and disaster monitoring, remote sensing for earth observation, stereo surveying and mapping, scientific and technological experiment.

Those projects marked breakthroughs in the key technologies of formation flight agility, integrated electronics, automated testing, digital general assembly, etc.

Xiaoxiang 1-07 (TY 1-07) is a small satellite developed by SpaceTY, possibly a CubeSat-2U. As one of the first commercial aerospace companies in China, “Spacety” specializes in developing commercial micro/nanosatellites. The company aims to provide short-cycle, low-cost and one-stop services to scientists, research institutes, and commercial companies, for science experiments and technology demonstrations.

The launch was originally scheduled to take place on November 25, 2018, but in the middle of the month was delayed by one month or the first quarter of 2019. The following months come without any notice about the mission, but at the beginning of August 2019, a notice came announcing the launch for August 29.

The Kuaizhou-1A launch vehicle.

After this mission, CASIC announced that they will launch 8 or 9 more Kuaizhou-1A commercial launches before the end of 2019.

The launch is managed by Expace.

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.

First stage ignition and lift-off take place at T+0s. Maneuvering to the planned flight azimuth, the vehicle achieves Max-Q at T+44s and first stage separation takes place 1 minute and 20 seconds into the flight, followed by second stage ignition.

At 2 minutes and 42 seconds in flight, the second stage separates, followed by the two halves of the fairing, exposing its double cargo.

Third stage operation starts at 3 minutes and 15 seconds into the flight, ending at T+5 minutes 5 seconds.
The upper stage will now execute two burns before satellite separation. The first burn is 5 minutes 6 seconds long starting at T+5 minutes and 8 seconds. The second burn starts at 25 minutes and 31 seconds after lift-off and is 60 seconds in duration.

Mission milestones (in Chinese) via Chinese Social Media

KX-09 separates 27 minutes 1 second after launch, followed by Xiaoxiang 1-07 satellite separation at T+32 minutes 31 seconds after launch.

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 200 kg payload into a 700 km 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.

Photo from the previous launch

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 meters long with a 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 is 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 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 launch took place on January 9, 2017, also from Jiuquan

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.

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 launch site at Jiuquan

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.

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, the CZ-11 Chang Zheng-11 and other solid propellant commercial / private 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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