Long March 3B rocket launches Chinasat-9 satellite

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Monday, June 9, 2008

A Long March 3B rocket

A Chinese Long March 3B carrier rocket has launched the Chinasat-9 satellite. The rocket lifted off from pad 2 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre at 12:15 GMT this afternoon. Chinasat-9, also known as Zhongxing-9 and ZX-9, is a communications satellite, which will initially be used to relay coverage of the 2008 Olympic Games. The launch was conducted by the China Great Wall Industrial Corporation.

Around twenty minutes after the rocket lifted off, the satellite separated from the third stage, into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. It will raise itself into a geosynchronous orbit, around 35,000 kilometres above the equator, by means of its onboard S-400 apogee motor. Chinasat-9 was constructed by Thales Alenia Space of France, based on the Spacebus-4000C2 satellite bus. It is equipped with 22 J-band (IEEE Ku-band) transponders, and will be operated by the China Telecommunications Broadcast Satellite Corporation on behalf of the China Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.

Chinasat-9 is the last of a number of communications satellites which have been launched by China over the last few years to boost capacity for the Olympic Games, including the Sinosat-2 spacecraft, which was lost after it failed to deploy its solar panels subsequent to its launch in late 2006. One more satellite, Echostar-CBM was scheduled to be launched, however this was cancelled due to performance issues. The Olympic Games will take place in August.

This is the 3rd orbital launch that China has conducted so far this year, and the 28th orbital launch of the year in total. The next Chinese launch is believed to be scheduled for August, when a Long March 2C will launch a pair of remote sensing satellites.