Following a record-breaking 2018 that saw China launch 39 orbital mission, the Chinese have kicked off the new year by orbiting a new communications satellite with possible military applications. Zhongxing-2D (or Chinasat-2D) was launched at 17:05 UTC on Thursday – from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center using a Long March-3B/G3 from the LC2 Launch Complex.
Zhongxing-2D is possibly the third satellite of the second generation Shentong geostationary military communication satellites.
China uses two types of satellites for secure military communications: the Fenghuo and the Shentong. The Fenghuo series is used for tactical military communications, providing secured digital data and voice communication to Chinese military forces. The Chinese are currently operating the DFH-4 based Fenghuo-2 second-generation satellite, with the first of the series – the Zhongxing-1A (37804 2011-047A) – launched at 13:33 UTC on September 18th, 2011, by the Chang Zheng-3B (Y16) rocket.
The Shentong geostationary military communication satellites are operated by the Army and their aim is to provide secure voice and data communications services for ground users using Ku-band. The first generation Shentong satellites were based on the DFH-3 (Dongfanghong-3) satellite platform that was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), having a heavier payload with better ...