Today China launched their experimental communications satellite and started program of tests of their electric ion thruster which could be adopted in future to satellite platforms manufactured and offered on commercial market by Chinese space industry.

Long March 3B was launched today (12 April) from Xichang Satellite Launch Center; at 11:04 UTC rocket started from LC2 launch site. It delivered under payload fairing first Chinese high throughput communications satellite equipped also with experimental payload – electric ion thruster.

Shijian-13 known also as ChinaSat-16 reached Geostationary Transfer Orbit after 30 minutes. Satellite will reach its final position in following months. It will spent at least 15  years at 110.5 degrees East and will cover  with its range China and Asia-Pacific Region. Payload is based on Ka band transponders with 26 beams; it will deliver internet access, multimedia services and maritime services data throughput of 20gbps.

Satellite was designed and built by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) with utilization of DFH-3 bus. SJ-13 based on DFH-3 weighs 4600 kg (2.2 m x 2 m x 1.72 m), offers 220 kg payload capacity and 1.7 kW of power provided by two folded solar arrays (18.1 m of span) and onboard batteries. This shows that DFH-3 is still useful platform for medium capacity communications satellites in spite of fact that it was presented in 1994. Satellite is stabilized in 3 axis; it is equipped with FY-25 liquid fueled apogee kick motor to help satellite in reaching final, orbital position.

Long March 3B/G2 is long for  54.838 m with diameter at 3.35 m. Payload fairing is 4.2 m wide and mass is 425,800 kg. For GTO orbit payload capacity is 5100 kg. Boosters are powered with one YF-25 engine each and thrust at 740.4 kN. First stage is powered by four YF-21C with thrust at 2961.6 kN with 145 s burning time. Second stage is powered by one central engine YF-24E with thrust at 742 kN and four vernier YF-23C engines with thrust at 47.1 kN. Third stage is equipped with one YF-75 engine with thrust at 167.17 kN.