China launches LKW-3 earth observation satellite

LKW-3 launch. Image courtesy of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

On 13 January 2018, China launched LKW-3, the third satellite in a series known simply as “Land Survey Satellite”. The launch took place at 3:10p.m. Beijing time (GMT+8) using a Long March 2D, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.

The first two LKW satellites were launched on 3 and 23 December 2017 respectively, also using a Long March 2D from Jiuquan. China’s space agency has not revealed many details of the satellite series, except to say that all have been developed by the Aerospace Dongfanghong Satellite Co., a subsidiary of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

Based on the Long March 2D’s capabilities and the absence of information on additional payloads, it is probable that each LKW satellite weighs about 3000kg, conforming to the rocket’s capacity of 3100kg.

This was China’s third launch in a week, and the second using a Long March 2D rocket. The first – and also China’s first of the year – took place on 9 January from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre, using a Long March 2D to launch two satellites for Chinese satellite operator and data provider Beijing Space View Technology. The second, which took place just a day before on 12 January, saw the Long March 3B launching 2 BeiDou-3M navigation satellites from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre.

This week will probably see two more Chinese launches, although they are unconfirmed, of the TY-2/3/4/5 satellites and Jilin-1-07/08.

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