The European Space Agency’s (ESA) first launch of 2018 will be of the GomX-4A and GomX-4B CubeSats, which will take place from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre on February 2, according to ESA.
The two near-identical CubeSats will most likely be launched aboard a Long March 2D, which was last used to launch China’s “Land Survey” No. 1 satellite on 3 December 2017. The primary payload for the launch will be the microsatellite Zhangheng 1, also known as the China Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite (CSES-1), an earthquake-measurement satellite that is a collaboration between the China’s space agency CNSA and Italy’s space agency ASI. Along with these, the Long March 2D will carry a number of other CubeSats, including Shaonian Xing, a CubeSat developed by two teenagers from Urumqi, Xinjiang.
ESA’s pair of CubeSats, developed by GOMSpace, the Danish Ministry of Defence, and ESA, will test intersatellite communication links and propulsion while orbiting up to 4500 km apart.
Said Roger Walker, Head of ESA’s CubeSat initiative, “GomX-4B is scheduled to be launched on a Chinese Long March rocket on 2 February, along with GomX-4A, owned by the Danish Ministry of Defence.”
He added, “The two CubeSats will test intersatellite link technology, routing data from one satellite to the other, then down to the ground station. Part of the ground testing ensured they could indeed talk to each other and the actual ground station on an end-to-end basis…Now the testing has been concluded, our main job is to keep the satellites’ batteries topped off, ahead of their transport to China.”