Chinese Long March 2D successfully launches two Satellites
September 4, 2014
A Chinese Long March 2D rocket lifted off from the Jiquan Satellite Launch Center on Thursday at 0:15 UTC carrying two satellites into orbit. Confirmation of mission success was provided by official Chinese media after the Chuang Xin 1-04 and Líng Qiǎo spacecraft had been released into the planned orbit.
Picking up the pace, Thursday's launch was China's fourth orbital mission of the year and the third in the last four weeks.
Chuang Xin 1 (=Innovation) is a series of small satellites that are forming a 'store and forward' communications architecture in Low Earth Orbit. The small satellites weigh approximately 90 Kilograms and are launched as secondary payloads on Long March launch vehicles. The cubical satellites feature body-mounted solar cells and communication antennas on the top deck. The satellites are built and operated by the China Academy of Science, and the Shanghai Academy of Space Technology.
The project was started in 1999 with the design of a small satellite to provide basic store and forward communications. The first satellite of the series was launched atop a Long March 4B rocket in October 2003 that delivered the CBERS-2 Earth Observation Satellite into orbit. The next two satellites were launched in 2008 and 2011 riding as secondary payloads atop Long March 2D rockets that lofted the Shiyan-3 and 4 satellites to orbit.
The CX 1 satellites are capable of receiving small data packets from remote ground terminals, store them in their onboard memory and then downlink them to a ground station for distribution. Ground terminals using these services include remote weather stations, water level monitoring sensors, and monitoring equipment on electrical grids and pipelines.
Chuang Xin 1
The Ling Qiao satellite is a communications satellite performing a demonstration mission of future communications technology to be employed by multimedia communications satellites. The satellite was developed by Xinwei Telecom and Tsinghua University. It is also a micro-satellite in the 100-Kilogram weight class.
Launching two satellites each weighing around 100 Kilograms leaves the Long March 2D with excess performance that was unused on Thursday's launch.
Long March 2D can launch Payloads of up to 3,500 Kilograms to Low Earth Orbit and has a SSO capability of up to 1,300kg. The CZ-2D Launcher was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and is capable of delivering payloads into a variety of Orbits, including Low Earth Orbit and Sun Synchronous Orbit.
Long March 2D features two stages, the first is identical to the Long March 4 Vehicle while the second stage is based on CZ-4, but has a modified equipment bay.
The Launcher stands 41.06 meters tall, has a diameter of 3.35 meters and a liftoff mass of 232,255 Kilograms.
For the first 170 seconds of Flight, the vehicle is powered by its first stage that is equipped with a YF-21C Engine that provides a thrust of 2,962 Kilonewtons. The stage is 27.91 meters long, 3.35 meters in diameter and filled with 183,200 Kilograms of Unsymmetrical Dimethylhydrazine and Nitrogen Tetroxide Propellants for a total weight of the first stage at launch of 192,700kg.
After first stage burnout and jettison, the second stage starts controlling the flight. The upper Stage is 10.9 meters in length and has the standard CZ-2D diameter weighing 45,600kg at liftoff. It also uses UMDH and NTO as propellants. A total of 39,550 Kilograms are aboard its tanks at blastoff. The second stage is powered by a YF-24C main engine providing 742 Kilonewtons of thrust and a 47.1-Kilonewton Vernier Thruster. Long March 2D can be outfitted with two different payload fairings to accommodate payloads of different sizes. The fairings have diameters of 2.90 and 3.35 meters. The large fairing is 6.98 meters in length.
Long March 2D made its first flight in 1992 and has a 100% success rate.
The Jiquan Satellite Launch Center which is also known as Shuang Cheng Tze launch center was China's first launch facility being established in 1958. It is located in the Gobi Desert about 1,600 Kilometers from Beijing.
Thursday's launch was the 204th Chinese orbital launch, the 203rd of the Long March series and the fourth Chinese launch of the year. Having a very slow start with just one launch in the first seven months of 2014, China is increasing its launch pace having successfully flown three missions in the last four weeks.
A number of launches are still on the list for this year, however the exact manifest remains uncertain as official information is limited. Expected in the next few weeks is the second launch of China's Kuaizhou rocket and the launch of another Yaogan reconnaissance satellite leading up to the Chang'e 5 precursor mission in late October - a circumlunar flight to demonstrate a re-entry capsule for a future sample return mission to the Moon.