China launched five new small remote sensing satellites on Thursday using a Long March 11 (Chang Zheng 11) rocket. The launch of the Zhuhai-1 Group-3 satellites took place at 06:42 UTC on September 19 from a mobile platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Onboard were four hyperspectral satellites and one video satellite comprising the Zhuhai-1 Group-3.
The Zhuhai-1 remote sensing micro-satellite constellation is a commercial satellite constellation built and operated by Zhuhai Orbita Aerospace Science and Technology Co., Ltd.
The first satellites of the Zhuhai-1 satellite constellation were launched in 2017 and 2018 respectively, initiating the launch and operation of satellite constellations by private companies in China.
The constellation is composed of video and hyperspectral satellites. The video satellites have a launch mass of 90 kg and feature a high-resolution video system for earth observation with a spatial resolution of 0.9 m and a swath width of 22.5 km. It can capture video sequences of 120 seconds.
In push-broom mode, it can capture images of 2500 km length. The hyperspectral satellites have a ground resolution of 10 m and a swath width of 150 km. The spectral resolution is 2.5 nm. It gab capture images of 150 km × 2500 km in push-broom mode.
In-orbit video and hyperspectral satellites have provided monitoring guarantees for users in government, research institutes, enterprises, schools and other fields, providing data protection for the development of domestic remote sensing satellite big data industry.
As the first private enterprise in China to launch hyperspectral satellites, Zhuhai Orbit Aerospace Science and Technology Co. four hyperspectral satellites now launched fill the gap in China’s commercial aerospace hyperspectral field.
Private companies actively participate in the construction of national Chinese space infrastructure and vigorously develop towards the model of the commercial aerospace industry. At present, the company is actively deploying national high-spectral satellite data demonstration applications.
The application projects have covered Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, Xinjiang, Shanxi, Henan, Guangxi, Shandong, Chongqing, and other provinces and autonomous regions, and continue to provide cities for many provinces and cities nationwide with data services.
The satellites now launched have completed all development, assembly and testing tasks on August 19 and were shipped to the launch site in late August.
With this launch the Zhuhai-1 remote sensing micro-satellite constellation will establish a 12-satellite network, in which the hyperspectral satellites will accomplish an 8-satellite network, which can achieve two-and-a-half-day coverage of Earth and revisit specific areas for one day, greatly improving surface coverage.
The Zhuhai-1 hyperspectral satellite constellation is the one with the highest spatial resolution and the largest width coverage in China, meeting the needs of users for continuous high-frequency monitoring and further promoting China’s commercial aerospace hyperspectral applications.
The satellites will operate in a 500km sun-synchronous orbit.
The company will take advantage of satellite remote sensing big data collection, data processing and special analysis to make satellite big data products and services more effective and efficient for natural resources, ecological environment, agriculture and rural areas, traffic management, emergency management, urban construction planning and financial insurance, providing services in industries and fields such as smart cities, helping governments at all levels to achieve precise decision-making, precise governance and fine management.
The Long March-11 (Chang Zheng-11) is a small solid-fuelled quick-reaction launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) 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-fuelled 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 lift-off 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 smallsats 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 used for launching the Kuaizhou and the CZ-11Changg 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).
The CZ-11 can also be launched from a maritime launch platform using the CZ-11H version.
The maritime launch platform is owned and run by an unnamed Chinese maritime engineering company. The platform is roughly 110 x 80 m in size, equipped with a 15.5 m high TEL.
On its first use, the platform was anchored at 34.90 deg. N, 121.19 deg. E.