China National Space Administration’s communications satellite, Shijian-13, was successfully launched aboard a Long March 3B (Chang Zheng 3B) rocket at 7.03 p.m local time.
It appears the launch was a public one, which crowds of bystanders cheering on the rocket as it lifted off from its base at the foot of a mountain range in the province of Sichuan.
Shijian 13 is the first of six high throughput communication satellites that will enable internet connectivity on airplanes and high-speed trains. Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology, it will be launched into Geostationary Orbit and has an expected mission duration of 15 years.
Weighing 4600 kg, the satellite will provide 26 beams in the Ka-Band to China, making it China’s most efficient satellite to date. The satellite also boasts a new electric propulsion system developed by Lanzhou Institute of Physics, which features ion engines as opposed to conventional chemical ones.
This year, China has carried out four launches, all of which were successful. The next launch will most probably be the Tianzhou-1, China’s first cargo spacecraft, which will dock at the Tiangong-2 space lab.
Watch the launch here: