China successfully launched six Galaxy Aerospace Yinhe Hantian-2 communications satellites to test technology for a large Internet constellation as well as a remote sensing satellite on Saturday.
The launch of the seven satellites aboard a Long March 2C booster was conducted at 2:01 p.m. Beijing time from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.
Galaxy Aerospace’s six Yinhe Hantian-2 satellites are designed to provide 5G Internet service at up to 40 Gbps. They are designed to test technologies for a future constellation that will include 144 satellites.
The Xuanming Xingyuan remote sensing spacecraft is a 6U CubeSat built by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology for SpaceWish.
The launch on Saturday was China’s fifth of 2022. It was the 410th launch in the Long March rocket series.
SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.
First in a series
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.
A Long March 2C booster launched three Yaogan 30-07 surveillance satellites and a commercial data relay satellite on Friday. The launch was conducted from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 2:11 a.m. local time.
The three Yaogan 30-07 satellites will be primarily used for electromagnetic environment detection.
The fourth satellite Tianqi 12, a data relay satellite owned by Beijing-based Guodian Gaoke. The spacecraft is part of the company’s Apocalypse Internet of Things constellation.
The launch also featured some technology focused on returning the payload fairing, according to a press release about the mission from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group.
“In this mission, the rocket fairing is equipped with an altimeter combination to measure the height change and some attitude information during the separation of the fairing and re-entry into the atmosphere, and continue to promote the parachute-based fairing debris landing zone control technology, to provide a reference for the subsequent design and improvement of the rocket landing zone control plan,” the press release said.
It was is the 369th flight of the Long March rocket series.
Here’s quick look at the launches scheduled for the rest of March. Information from Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch scheduled for March 30 is listed. However, unofficial reports say it has been delayed indefinitely due to travel restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The booster will launch the SAOCOM 1B Earth observation satellite for Argentine.
What the months ahead hold in terms of launch is uncertain. Europe has suspended flights out of its launch base in French Guiana. Whether other spaceports are closed remains to be seen. China appears to have weathered the worst of the virus.
I would expect crew and cargo flights to the International Space Station (ISS) to continue. The first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to ISS is scheduled for mid- to late May. It’s difficult to say whether that schedule will hold.
Launch Vehicle: Long March 2C Payloads: 3 Yaogan 30-06 military surveillance satellites Launch Time: Approximately 11:40 p.m. EDT on 23rd (0340 GMT on 24th) Launch Site: Xichang, China
A Long March 2C rocket launched three Yaogan Weixing-30 Group-5 remote sensing satellites into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Friday. The satellites are believed to be for military reconnaissance.
The booster included grid fins that are similar to the ones that SpaceX uses to guide the first stage of its Falcon 9 booster to landings on land and at sea. The Chinese appear to be experimenting with controlled descent and moving toward reusable first stages.
That would be good news for people living down range from China’s interior launch sites. Boosters fall uncontrollably from the sky and land near villages and towns.
The world’s launch providers were extremely busy in the first half of 2018, with China and the United States battling for the lead.
There with 55 orbital launches through the end of June, which amounted to a launch every 3.29 days or 79 hours. The total is more than half the 90 launches attempted in 2017. With approximately 42 missions scheduled for the last six months of the year, the total could reach 97. (more…)
There are a dozen orbital launches planned around the world through the end of June.
China will lead off on Sunday as it launches its Chang’e-4 lunar relay satellite from Xichang. A lunar lander and rover targeted for the far side of the moon is scheduled for launch at the end of the year.
Orbital ATK will follow with the launch of a Cygnus resupply ship bound for the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday from Wallops Island. On Tuesday, SpaceX is scheduled to launch 5 Iridium Next satellites and a pair of scientific spacecraft for NASA.
Other notable missions scheduled through June include a Soyuz crew mission and a SpaceX Dragon resupply flight. Rocket Lab is probably going to launch the first commercial flight of its Electron booster from New Zealand. However, the company has not published a launch window for the flight.
The current global schedule is below. Be sure to check Space Flight Now’s launch schedule for updates.
The world’s launch providers have been extremely busy in the first quarter of 2018, with 31 orbital launches thus far. This is more than one third of the 90 launches conducted last year.
China leads the pack with 10 successful launches. The United States is close behind with a total of nine launches with one failure. The tenth American launch is scheduled for Monday afternoon from Florida.
UPDATE: Agence France Presse (AFP) is reporting the problem with Ariane 5 involved more than just a loss of telemetry:
But a source told AFP the satellites did not detach from the rocket in the correct place after the craft followed an “imperfect trajectory”.
Arianespace said they were currently “repositioning the satellites in the right place using their propulsion systems” adding that the current status was “reassuring after strong concerns”.
I don’t see any further updates on the mission on the websites of Arianespace, SES or Yahsat. This leads me to believe the AFP report is accurate. If it had been a simple telemetry loss, Arianespace would have said so, and there would be press releases and social media messages declaring the flight to be a complete success.
Yahsat does have a link to a page with an update about the mission. It’s in Arabic so I ran it through Google Translate. The update doesn’t appear to go beyond Arianespace’s original statement about the spacecraft separating from the second stage and being in contact with control centers. ________
Controllers lost contact with the upper stage of an Ariane 5 booster carrying a pair of communications satellites on Thursday. The loss telemetry began a few seconds after ignition of the stage and continued through the rest of the powered flight, Arianespace said in a statement.
“Subsequently, both satellites were confirmed separated, acquired and they are on orbit,” the company said. “SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are communicating with their respective control centers. Both missions are continuing.”
The precise orbital parameters of the geosynchronous communications satellites are unknown. SES-14 will use electric propulsion to reach its intended orbit while the Al Yah 3 will use a liquid bi-propellant transfer system.
Earlier on Thursday, China launched the fourth group of three Yaogan Weixing-30 satellites. A Long March 2C booster flew from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
Officially, the Yaogan Weixing are remote sensing spacecraft. However, analysts believe they are military reconnaissance satellites.
The flight marked China’s fifth successful launch of 2018. The nation is aiming to achieve more than 40 orbital launches this year.
SpaceX had a banner year in 2017, launching a record 18 times and helping to propel the United States to the top of the global launch table with a perfect 29-0 record. The U.S. total made up 32.2 percent of 90 orbital launches worldwide, which was an increase over the 85 flights conducted in 2016.
The 29 American launches were a leap of seven over the 22 flights conducted the previous year. This is the highest number of American orbital launches since the 31 flights undertaken in 1999. However, that year the nation’s launch providers suffered four failures whereas they were perfect in 2017.