Spaceflight Now Home





Mission Reports




For 11 years, Spaceflight Now has been providing unrivaled coverage of U.S. space launches. Comprehensive reports and voluminous amounts of video are available in our archives.
Space Shuttle
Atlas | Delta | Pegasus
Minotaur | Taurus | Falcon
Titan



NewsAlert



Sign up for our NewsAlert service and have the latest space news 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.



Advertisement






Space Books






Chinese rocket lifts off with communications satellite
BY STEPHEN CLARK
SPACEFLIGHT NOW

Posted: March 31, 2012


Bookmark and Share

A Chinese Long March 3B rocket lifted a French-built communications payload into orbit Saturday to broadcast television signals, Internet access and network data solutions across the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East for a Hong Kong-based satellite operator.


Artist's concept of Apstar 7 and a diagram of the Long March launch sequence. Credit: Thales Alenia Space/China Great Wall Industry Corp.
 
The launch occurred at 1027 GMT (6:27 a.m. EDT) from the Xichang space base, a facility in Sichuan province in southwest China. The blastoff was at 6:27 p.m. Beijing time.

The 180-foot-tall Long March 3B rocket, featuring an enhanced first stage and strap-on boosters to haul heavier payloads into space, soared into a mostly cloudy sky and flew east from Xichang.

Two burns of the Long March 3B rocket's cryogenic third stage injected the Apstar 7 satellite into an elliptical orbit with a high point of 31,145 miles, a low point of 148 miles, and an inclination of 27.4 degrees, according to U.S. military tracking data.

The third stage released the Apstar payload about 25 minutes, 42 seconds after liftoff.

Apstar 7 weighed 11,142 pounds at the time of launch. The satellite will use an on-board engine to circularize its orbit 22,300 miles over the equator, where it will be positioned at 76.5 degrees east longitude and enter service for APT Satellite Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong.


The Long March 3B rocket before liftoff. Credit: China Great Wall Industry Corp.
 
APT arranged the launch under a commercial agreement with China Great Wall Industry Corp., a state-owned launch services firm.

The satellite is outfitted with 28 C-band and 28 Ku-band transponders to serve China, the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, Australia, and part of Europe. Apstar 7 will broadcast television programming, facilitate corporate data networks, and serve Internet users during its 15-year design life.

Apstar 7 was built by Thales Alenia Space of France using an 'ITAR-free' version of the company's Spacebus 4000 C2 satellite platform. Thales avoids U.S. government regulations by not using U.S. satellite components in its ITAR-free satellites.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, classifies U.S. satellite parts as munitions, preventing their launch on Chinese rockets.

Apstar 7 will replace the Apstar 2R spacecraft, which is near the end of its design life.

Saturday's mission marked the fourth Chinese space launch of the year.

STS-134 Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The final planned flight of space shuttle Endeavour is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-134. Available in our store!
 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 now available in our store. Get this piece of history!
 U.S. STORE
 WORLDWIDE STORE

Apollo Collage
This beautiful one piece set features the Apollo program emblem surrounded by the individual mission logos.
 U.S. STORE

STS-133 Patch

Free shipping to U.S. addresses!

The final planned flight of space shuttle Discovery is symbolized in the official embroidered crew patch for STS-133. 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

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

ADVERTISE

© 2014 Spaceflight Now Inc.