Launch of first Byelorussian broadcasting satellite Belintersat-1 on atop Long March 3B is planned on February 2016 (UPDATE: current date is 15th January 2016). Planned launch site is Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, China.
Republic of Belarus is not wide known of its space program. Opposite to Ukraine or Kazakhstan, after collapse of USSR there was no well-developed space industry. During long years of presidency of Alexander Lukashenko it seemed that Belarus has other important problems than space program. However, it turned out in 2009 that possessing of space agency became matter of state. After establishing Belarus Space Agency under National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, real space program has started. In spite of previous space activities like developing technology of receiving satellite data and spacecraft control, future participating in GLONASS, training personnel for space industry, working on own satellite called ERS, Belarus still have not had own operational satellite. This way of develop seemed the most natural and it was obviously, that natural support of Belarus in space program will be Russia. But just like in politics, Belarus defies unequivocal assessments, also in space program. In 2012, National System of Satellite Communication and Broadcast of the Republic of Belarus signed contract with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) for manufacturing and launching first Byelorussian broadcasting satellite. With design based on Chinese DFH-4 Bus (designed by Chinese Academy of Space Technology) and equipped with twenty C and eighteen Ku bands transponders manufactured by Thales Alenia Space belongs to range of large and modern broadcasting satellites. DFH-4 platform offers payload in the range between 450-700 kg and an output power for payload between 4000-8000 W provided by solar arrays. It has operational life at 15 years with reliability ratio at the end of life at 0.78. Launch mass of satellite is in the range of 5000-5300 kg. Chinese participation in this project is not limited only to design, manufacturing and launch service. As two Ku band transponders will be utilized by Belarus, eight of transponders were sold to Chinese companies. They will utilize C and Ku band transponders to cover Africa, and support global communication services. Rest of capacity is still available for commercial customers. Noteworthy is the fact that Ground Control Station is located in Belarus (Minsk Region). It will utilize for communication with satellite two C-band antennas (with diameter at 13 m) and two Ku band antennas (9 m and 11 m). For now Belintersat Project is focused mainly on commercial aspects. As we can read on their website:
“Now Belintersat Project is negotiating on the resource commercialization with global operators and providers of satellite services, which have already expressed serious interest in acquiring the capacity on the satellite. World customers will be able to use BELINTERSAT-1’s resources to create their own corporate communication networks…”
Many could consider Byelorussian only as mean of propaganda, but it seems that it is a business venture for real. Opposite to international cooperation in other aspects, Belintersat-1 is open for foreign partners (at least according to official statements that can be found on the project website):
“One of the top-priority tasks is the establishment of mutually beneficial cooperation with foreign partners for providing telecommunication services (Europe, Asia and Africa coverage). Belintersat Project is open to dialogue and is always ready to work together with partners either on commercial or technical cooperation principles, enriching its broadcasting and data network services.”
Chinese launch service provider is going to utilize during launch of Belintersat-1 their workhorse, Long March 3B. Since 1997 this rocket is one of most popular launch vehicles in Chinese commercial launches. With payload capacity for GTO missions at 5100 kg, Belinterat-1 is placing in upper range of Long March 3B capabilities. Due this fact China Great Wall Industry Corporation (Chinese launch service provider for all commercial launches) will probably utilize version equipped with four liquid fueled boosters with thrust provided by four YF-21C (one per booster) engines at 2961.6 kN. Long March 3B is three stage rocket with liquid fueled engines. First stage is powered by four YF-21C engines with thrust at 2961.6 kN. Second stage is powered by one central YF-24E (thrust at 742 kN) with four additional stabilizing YF-23C (thrust at 47.1 kN). Third stage is powered by single YF-75 engine with thrust at 167.17 kN. Rocket is height at 54.838 m with mass at 425800 kg.