The communication satellite, Apstar-6C was launched by China on 3rd May, Thursday after it was inserted into a 5 metric ton spacecraft and then into a geostationary-transfer orbit. The Long March 3B was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center which is situated on the southwest part of China. The success of the launch was announced by the CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation) just after an hour of liftoff.
This launch is the country’s 13th mission of this year and the 5th from the XCLC. The Xichang Satellite Launch Center is expected to see about 17 launches in this year of which most will be Beidou positioning and navigation satellites.
The Apstar-6C will be joining four other completely operational satellites which belong to the APT Satellite of Hong Kong. APT is the operator of the Apstar constellation and is responsible for providing overage of the regions of Asia-Pacific and beyond.
The Apstar-6C satellite was developed by CAST (China Academy of Space Technology) and is based on the DFH-4 platform. CAST is a spacecraft and satellite maker under the CASC which is the main contractor of China’s space missions. It is fitted with 45 transponders in Ku, Ka and C bands which has a service life about 15 years. This satellite will replace the current Apstar-6 satellite and provide transponder services of high power for broadband internet access, video distribution and cellular backhaul.
An agreement of in-orbit-delivery was signed on October 15th, 2015by the APT with CGWIC (China Great Wall Industry Corp.), which is a CASC company. It is on the same day that the DFH-4-based Apstar-9 satellite was successfully landed.
The CASC has plans for a total of 38 launches in this year and the launch providers which are not under the government could take China’s launch number to about 40 this year. Some of the next missions of China that are lined up for launch are, the launch of Gaofen-5 which is an Earth observation satellite of high-resolution and the Queqiao communications satellite for the far side mission of the Chang’e-4. These will be launched after the launch of a satellite on 8th May from Taiyuan in the north part of China.
The relay satellite that will be orbiting around the 2nd Earth-Moon Lagrange point about 80,000 kilometers away from the Moon, will be facilitating communications with a lander and rover (lunar) on the farthest side of the moon after its launch in 2018.