China has launched a new pair of navigation satellites on Thursday, marking its 28th orbital launch this year. The launch of Beidou-3M15 and Beidou-3M16 took place from the LC3 Launch Complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province, using a Long March-3B/YZ-1 (Chang Zheng-3B/YZ-1) launch vehicle. Launch time was 04:23 UTC and it took over four hours to complete the mission.
Also designated Beidou-39 and Beidou-40, the MEO satellites are the Medium Earth Orbit component of the third phase of the Chinese Beidou (Compass) satellite navigation system. The satellites are part of a fleet that will expand the system to a global navigation coverage.
The satellites are using a bus that features a phased array antenna for navigation signals and a laser retroreflector, with a launch mass 1,014 kg. Spacecraft dimensions are noted to be 2.25 by 1.0 by 1.22 meters. Usually, the satellites reside in a 21,500 – 21,400 km nominal orbit at 55.5 degrees.
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One new pair of Beidou-3M satellites is scheduled to launch before years end. Beidou-3M17 and Beidou-3M18 will be launched in November. In December is expected the launch of a geosynchronous navigation ...