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Upgraded Long March 3B Launches Gaofen 14 Satellite

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 6, 2020
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Long March 3B booster launches Gaefen 14 Earth observation satellite on Dec. 6, 2020. (Credit: CALT)

BEIJING (CALT PR) — On Dec. 6 at 11:58 a.m., the Long March 3B successfully launched the Gaofen 14 remote sensing satellite into orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

There are two major changes in the Long March 3B rocket that performed the mission: the fairing has been increased by 900 mm; and it will perform the low-orbit launch mission for the first time.

The Gaofen 14 satellite launched this time has a relatively taller size. In order to meet the needs of the mission, the fairing of the rocket was 900 mm [35.4 inches] higher than the previous 4.2-meter [13.78-foot] diameter fairing.

The height of the fairing has changed the shape of the rocket. The total length of the rocket is 58 meters [190.3 ft].

The first low-orbit launch mission

In the past, Long March 3B rockets were used to perform high-orbit launch missions, including geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO orbit) and medium earth orbit (MEO orbit). This launch is the first low-orbit launch mission of Long March 3B rocket, namely sun synchronization. Orbital mission (SSO orbit).

To this end, a lot of changes have been made to the software part of the rocket control system, and the flight software code has been rewritten by about 30%, including the addition of guidance control in the first-level flight segment, the use of “4 yuan” for attitude control throughout the entire process, and use of the third-level.

In addition to iterative guidance and control, the purpose is to adapt to changes in the launch orbit. This launch means that the Long March 3B rocket has both high and low orbit launch capabilities, which improves the orbital adaptability of the Long March 3B rocket.

This mission was the 354th launch of the Long March series rocket.