Spaceflight Now Home




Page not found | Spaceflight Now
Breaking News

Page not found (404)

It seems we can’t find what you’re looking for. Perhaps searching can help.

Search

Popular Articles

Random Articles



NewsAlert



Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest news in astronomy and space e-mailed direct to your desktop.

Enter your e-mail address:

Privacy note: your e-mail address will not be used for any other purpose.



Chinese satellite launched to track docking attempt
BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: July 11, 2011


Bookmark and Share

China launched its second data relay satellite Monday, expanding the country's space communications network before the first Chinese space docking attempt later this year.

The spacecraft blasted off at 1541 GMT (11:41 a.m. EDT) Monday on the tip of a Long March 3C rocket. The launch was at 11:41 p.m. local time at the Xichang space center in Sichuan province in southwest China, according to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.


The Long March 3C rocket lifted off at 11:41 p.m. local time from the Xichang launch center in southwestern China. Credit: CALT
 
The 18-story rocket successfully released its payload a few minutes after liftoff.

The payload was the second Tianlian 1 data relay satellite, joining a similar craft launched in April 2008. The satellites are part of a network to increase the coverage of tracking stations for Chinese space missions across the globe, according to the Xinhua news agency, a state-run outlet.

According to U.S. tracking data, the Tianlian spacecraft was deployed in an orbit stretching from a low point of 120 miles to a high point of more than 26,000 miles. The orbit's inclination is 18 degrees.

On-board engines will fire several times to place the satellite in a circular orbit about 22,300 miles over the equator.

The Tianlian communications system will be instrumental in China's attempt to dock two unmanned spacecraft this fall, Xinhua reported.

China plans to launch a 19,000-pound space laboratory module by the end of September, and an unmanned Shenzhou capsule flying on autopilot will dock several weeks later, forming the country's first mini-space station.

Without the Tianlian satellites, China's previous human space expeditions relied on ground stations covering about 12 percent of each orbit. The data relay satellites increase the coverage to more than half of a spacecraft's circuit around Earth.

The first Tianlian spacecraft launched several months before China's Shenzhou 7 mission flew three astronauts into orbit and accomplished the military-run program's first spacewalk.

Monday's mission was China's fourth space launch this year, and it marked the 32nd rocket flight worldwide to reach orbit in 2011.

John Glenn Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The historic first orbital flight by an American is marked by this commemorative patch for John Glenn and Friendship 7.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Final Shuttle Mission Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The crew emblem for the final space shuttle mission is available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Celebrate the shuttle program

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This special commemorative patch marks the retirement of NASA's Space Shuttle Program. Available in our store!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Anniversary Shuttle Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

This embroidered patch commemorates the 30th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Program. The design features the space shuttle Columbia's historic maiden flight of April 12, 1981.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Mercury anniversary

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!


Celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alan Shephard's historic Mercury mission with this collectors' item, the official commemorative embroidered patch.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Fallen Heroes Patch Collection
The official patches from Apollo 1, the shuttle Challenger and Columbia crews are available in the store.
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

INDEX | PLUS | NEWS ARCHIVE | LAUNCH SCHEDULE
ASTRONOMY NOW | STORE

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.