A Chinese Long March-2D/YZ-3 (Chang Zheng-2D/YZ-3) rocket has conducted the final orbital launch of 2018 when it lofted the Hongyan-1 satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday. The launch took place at 08:00 UTC from the Launch Pad 94 of the LC43 Launch Complex.
Hongyan-1 is the first satellite of a constellation of more than 300 low-orbit satellites tasked with providing global communication services. The Hongyan constellation is being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
Hongyan-1 will be placed on a 1,100-kilometer orbit to test L- and Ka-band communications technologies.
The Hongyan constellation is composed of more than 320 satellites, along with data processing centers, and will be built in three stages. The orbital group will consist of 54 main satellites, accompanied by another 270 smaller satellites for coordination of the system.
Six or nine satellites will be launched before the end of 2020 for network testing. The 54 larger first phase satellites will be placed in orbit by the year 2023 and the 270 smaller satellites will be placed into orbits to supplement the main satellites.
Once completed, the satellite communication network will take the place of the ground-based network and allow a ...