Kuaizhou-1A fails during Jilin-1 launch

by Rui C. Barbosa

China launched a new high-resolution remote sensing satellite for the Jilin-1 satellite constellation on Saturday morning from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. However, the solid fuelled Kuaizhou-1A launch was declared a failure after several hours of waiting for information from Chinese state media.

No specifics were noted other than the rocket failed to deliver the satellite into the designated orbit.

Also known as Neimenggu-1 – Inner Mongolia 1 – the Jilin-1 Gaofen-02C is a result of the cooperation between the Changguang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd. and People’s Government of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

With its high resolution, large width, and high-speed data transmission, the new satellite was to be used in natural resource surveys, ecological environmental monitoring, urban construction, disaster prevention and mitigation, and other fields.

Orbiting at an altitude of 535 km orbit, and like the previous Jilin-1 Gaofen-02 sats, the new bird was to obtain static push-scan images with a full-color resolution better than 0.75 meters and a multi-spectral resolution better than 3.1 meters. Its launch weight was 230 kg.

The first announcement of the mission came on August 24 when the Changguang Satellite Technology Co. presented three satellites in the Jilin-1 Gaofen-02 series, referring that the satellites would be launch un three different missions using Kuaizhou-1A launch vehicles.

Satellites Gaofen-02D and Gaofen-02F for the Jilin-1 constellation will be launched on September 17 and September 22, with both launched schedule to take place at around 06:20 UTC. However, Saturday’s failure is likely to delay those launches.

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 is aimed to help clients forecast and mitigate geological disasters, as well as shorten the time scale for the exploration of natural resources.

The satellites are developed and operated by the Changguang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd under the Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Jilin-1 Gaofen-02A was launched on November 13, 2019, using the Kuaizhou-1A (Y11) from Jiuquan, while Gaofen-02B was launched on December 7 using the Kuaizhou-1A (Y2) from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. Jilin-1 Gaofen-02E was lost on July 10, 2020, during the inaugural flight of the Kuaizhou-11 launch vehicle.

Like previous Kuaizhou-1A launches, this mission was managed by 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.

The Kuaizhou-1A is promoted as “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).

Photo taken from weibo

The launch vehicle can send a 200kg payload into a 700km sun-synchronous orbit.

The vehicle is based on the road-mobile DF-21 missile, with the addition of two stages. There are no apparent differences between the KZ-1A (that was previously commercially available as the FT-1 Feitian-1) and the KZ-1 launch vehicle. However, with the 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.

The rocket is 20 meters long with a lift-off mass of 30 tons and is 1.4 meters in diameter. 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.

The vehicle can be used with two kinds of fairings employing a diameter of 1.2 and 1.4 meters according to the space demand of cargo to be orbited.

The usual launch profile involves 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 is 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 final stage provides 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 satellite separates 25 minutes 55 seconds into the flight, and the second satellite separates 2 minutes 30 seconds later.

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, 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 crewed 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 crewed program for the launch of the Long March-2F launch vehicle (Shenzhou and Tiangong). Launch Pad 94 is used for uncrewed 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 rocket motor commercial and 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).

Related Articles