Kuaizhou-1A launches Jilin-1 Gaofen-2A

by Rui C. Barbosa

China launched a new remote sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to provide photographs to commercial clients while helping with harvest assessment, geological disaster prevention and resource surveys. Launch of the mission took place at 03:40 UTC on Wednesday using the Kuaizhou-1A (Y11) launch vehicle from the LC43/95 Launch Complex. The launch was delayed from October following a scrub in the final minutes of the countdown.

The Jilin-1 satellite constellation was developed on China’s Jilin Province and is the country’s first self-developed remote sensing satellite for commercial use. Data will be provided to commercial clients to help them forecast and mitigate geological disasters, as well as shorten the time scale for the exploration of natural resources.

The satellites were developed by the Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd under the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The new satellite, Jilin-1 Gaofen-2A, is the 14th satellite of the Jilin-1 constellation and will be operational at an altitude of 535 km orbit. The satellite can obtain a static push-scan image with a full-color resolution better than 0.76 meters and a multi-spectral resolution better than 3.1meters. Images width is greater than 40 km. The images are transmitted to the ground stations via digital transmission with a rate of 1.8Gbps. The launch weight is 230 kg.

Jilin-1 Gaofen-2A

Jilin, one of the country’s oldest industrial bases, is developing its satellite industry as a new economic drive. The province plans to launch 60 satellites by 2020 and 137 by 2030.

The first phase will saw the launch of the first four Jilin-1 satellites on October 7, 2015. Jilin-1 Optical-A, LQSat (Jilin-1 Smart Verification Satellite), Lingqiao-A and Lingqiao-B were launched by the Long March-2D (Y37) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The fifth satellite, Jilin-1 Video-03, was launched on January 9, 2017. This was a remote sensing satellite for high definition video able to acquire visible light video data for high-resolution Earth observation. The satellite was launched by the Kuaizhou-1A (Y1) launcher from Jiuquan.

On November 21, 2017, three more satellites for the Jilin-1 constellations were launched. The Jilin-1 Video-4, 5 and 6 were launched by the Long March-6 (Y2) launch vehicle from the LC16 Launch Complex of the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The three satellites featured a dual-imager with a 1-meter ground resolution for gaze video imaging, push-broom imaging, shimmer imaging and inertial space imaging.

Two more satellites were launched on January 19, 2018. Designated Deqing-1 (Jilin-1 Video-7) and Jilin Linye-2 (Jilin-1 Video-8), the two satellites were launched by the Long March-11 (Y20011703/Y3) from Jiuquan and were similar to the previous Video satellites.

Two hyperspectral satellites ere launched on January 21, 2019. The Jilin Lincao-1 (Jilin-1 Hyperspectral-01) and Wenchang Chaosaun-1 (Jilin-1 Hyperspectral-02) featured a hyperspectral imager, providing a ground resolution of 5 meters and a swath width of 150 km in 26 spectral bands. The satellites were launched by the Long March-11 (Y20011806/Y6) rocket from JIuquan.

Jilin-1 Gaofen-3A was launched on June 5, 2019, onboard the Long March-11H from the Yellow Sea. The satellite was equipped with a lightweight imaging system with a resolution of 1 meter, an image swath of 17 km.

The original plan was to have 16 satellites in orbit until the end of 2019, 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 satellite 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 a 10 minutes revisit capability, providing the world’s highest spatial resolution and time resolution space information products.

Like previous Kuaizhou-1A launches, the launch was 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.

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 Kuaizhou-1A launch vehicle.

The launch vehicle can send a 200kg payload into a 700km 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.

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 vehicles from the 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 meters. 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 use a single fixed nozzle and do not shut off until the propellant is exhausted.

The 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 vehicles, test and fire control equipment, aiming equipment, etc.

Photo from the previous launch

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 are integrated into the platform. The transport and launch vehicle employs a semi-trailer which is usually used for transporting containers.

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 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 launch site at Jiuquan

Jiuquan was originally used to launch scientific and recoverable satellites into medium or low earth orbits at high inclinations. It is also the place where all the Chinese manned missions are launched.

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 the 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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