Thursday witnessed the launch of a Chinese communications satellite, Apstar 6C, owned by a Hong Kong operator on Thursday atop a Long March 3B rocket from the space base of Xichang, Southwest China. The communications craft lifted off from a mountain region in Sichuan province at 12:06 p.m. EDT (1606 GMT) as stated by the official authorities.
The Long March 3B is a 56-meter tall rocket which is powered by 4 liquid fueled and a core stage boosters. It took off from Xichang towards the southeast to drop the Apstar 6C satellite in its geostationary orbit nearly 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles) over the equator.
The Apstar 6C satellite was deployed from the third stage of the March 3B in about half an hour after the liftoff. The spacecraft has its own propulsion system which will circularize its orbit in the coming weeks at geostationary altitude. There the velocity of the satellite will match the speed of the rotation of the Earth.
The satellite will be entering service at a longitude of 134 degrees for an expected 15-year mission. This will provide video distribution services, in-flight connectivity for airliners, direct home television broadcasts, and cellular capacity for backhaul across Mongolia, Southeast Asia, and China. It is equipped with the Ka-band, Ku-band and 45 C-band transponders which will provide wider coverage zone stretching from India and Siberia In the west and north, to Hawaii and Australia in the east and south.
The spacecraft was developed based on the DFH-4 satellite design by the CAST (China Academy of Space Technology). APT satellites which are a Hong Kong-based satellite operator ordered the Apstar 6C for replacing the current Apstar 6 telecom satellite craft launched in 2005 aboard a Long March 3B rocket.
Apstar has another satellite under construction, the Apstar 6D which is also Chinese built and is expected to be launched in 2019 atop a Long March 3B rocket. The operator has also attained capacity over the Telstar 18 Vantage, which is a Canadian-owned communications satellite planned to be launched in next month on a Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX.
Thursday’s flight was said to be the 13th space launch of China in this year, and 41st space launch in terms of the worldwide launches till now in 2018. The Chinese are busy developing another rocket called the Long March 4C, which is to be launched on May 8th.