Chinese TV Broadcasting Satellite Launched on 300th Long March Rocket:
A Chinese television broadcasting satellite lifted off Saturday aboard a Long March 3B booster, the 300th orbital launch by the country’s Long March rocket family since 1970.
The Long March 3B rocket climbed away from the Xichang space center at 1628 GMT (11:28 a.m. EST) Saturday, and headed east from the inland spaceport located in a hilly region of southwestern China’s Sichuan province. Liftoff occurred at 12:28 a.m. Beijing time Sunday.
The rocket jettisoned four hydrazine-fueled boosters and its core stage less around two-and-a-half minutes into the mission, followed by engine firings by the Long March 3B’s second stage and a cryogenic hydrogen-fueled third stage. Around a half-hour after liftoff, the Long March 3B deployed the Chinasat 6C, or Zhongxing 6C, communications satellite in an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit.
Chinese officials declared the launch a success, and publicly-available tracking data provided by the U.S. military indicated the Chinasat 6C spacecraft was released in an orbit ranging in altitude between 120 miles (200 kilometers) and roughly 25,500 miles (41,000 kilometers), with an inclination of 24.6 degrees to the equator.
The Chinasat 6C satellite, based on the DFH-4 spacecraft design built by the China Academy of Space Technology, will use its own propulsion system to maneuver into a circular geostationary orbit more than 22,000 miles (nearly 36,000 kilometers) over the equator, entering service at a position at 130 degrees east longitude to provide television broadcast services for China Satcom.
The launch of Chinasat 6C marked the 300th orbital flight by a member of the Long March rocket family, which debuted April 24, 1970, when a Long March 1 rocket carried China’s first satellite into space. China has upgraded the Long March series, originally based on long-range missile technology, with new engines, strap-on boosters, and upper stages over the last five decades.
I knew that China has a productive space program, but had no idea they were up to 300 launches!