China successfully launched a new pair of navigation satellites on Sunday marking China’s 33rd launch of the year. The launch of Beidou-3M17 and Beidou-3M18 took place from the LC2 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 18:00UTC and it took over four hours to complete the mission.
Also designated Beidou-42 and Beidou-43, 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.
This was the ninth launch dedicated to the replenishment of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System in 2018. Launch activities started on January 11th with the launch of Beidou-3M7 (Beidou-26) and Beidou-3M8 (Beidou-27) satellites from the LC2 Launch Complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center ...