Long March 3B Takes New Beidou Navigation Satellite to Space

Long March 3B Courtesy: China Aerospace

Southwest China on Monday at 14:09 hrs EST saw the liftoff of a Long March 3B from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center of a Beidou satellite towards an inclined geosynchronous orbit.

A few days earlier, an airspace closure notice was issued and it is within this window leading to the closure, this launch took effect. The success of the mission was announced an hour after the launch by the media wing of the People’s Liberation Army. This is the second satellite to be placed in an inclined geosynchronous orbit and the 21st of the Beidou-3 rollout system that will have 27 in medium Earth orbits, 5 in geostationary orbits and 3 in inclined GEO orbits. The latter ones will be forming two figure-eight loops to provide optimized coverage for China and its neighboring countries in Asia Pacific.

The third phase of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System is the Beidou-3 satellites which enhances service coverage from regional to global. Inter-satellite link capabilities, new generation rubidium atomic clocks and passive hydrogen maser clocks can be adopted by these new satellites.

The Beidou navigation and positioning system is very much hyped about by the Chinese media to be of remarkable use in public security, transportation, fishing, power, forestry, disaster reduction, construction of smart cities, social governance and much more; also boosting the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army  in weapons targeting, guidance and more. This enhancement will be considerably removing the dependency of the Chinese military on the use of U.S GPS.

The complete rollout of the Beidou system is scheduled to be completed in 2020 with positioning, navigation and timing constellation all set. 20 ground stations established by China across the world will be monitoring and evaluating the Beidou system continuously.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation announced at the beginning of the year that it will be carrying out 30 launches during the run of the year. This launch was China’s 11th orbital launch of 2019, including one sea launch and 2 failures. The launch failure of last month of a Long March 4C will impact the upcoming launches of Long March 4Cs and 4Bs, which includes the joint China-Brazil CBERS-4A resource monitoring satellite.

The Long March 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle that was anticipated to launch mid-July carrying a large experimental communications satellite, is also facing delays. The launch has been skipped with no new dates set. The ensuing mission of Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission which was scheduled for December also seems to be in deep waters.


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