Two Chinese launches in 3 days

The BeiDou-3 IGSO launch. Image courtesy of CASC.

Earlier today, at 1.43 am Beijing time (GMT+8), China launched a BeiDou-3 navigation satellite from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, the third satellite in the BeiDou-3 IGSO (Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit) series, via the Long Mark 3B rocket. This was China’s second launch in 3 days, with the previous one having taken place on 3 Nov with the launch of earth observation satellite Gaofen-7.

Today’s satellite is the 24th of the overall BeiDou-3 series of navigation satellites, the third generation of China’s GNSS satellites. Most of the BeiDou-3 satellites launched have been to the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO), which form the bulk of the planned constellation consisting of 3 GEO satellites, 3 IGSO satellites, and 24 MEO satellites.

BeiDou-3 IGSO satellites, like this one, are built on the Dongfangho 3B bus with a design life of 12 years and a liftoff mass of 5.4 tonnes. This particular satellite carries a new-generation atomic clock.

The launch three days ago, of Gaofen-7, took place at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre at 11:22 a.m. Beijing time, via the Long March 4B rocket. Gaofen-7 is part of the Gaofen series of civilian earth observation satellites, and carries a 3D mapping camera with submetre resolution, and is the first of its kind.

The launch on Sunday also carried three other payloads, including Sudan’s first satellite, the Sudan Remote Sensing Satellite (SRSS-1), developed by China for Sudan.

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