China’s busy spaceflight yr continues.
The nation launched its thirty eighth orbital mission of 2022 on Tuesday (Sept. 13), sending the Zhongxing-1E satellite aloft atop a Long March 7A rocket. The launcher lifted off at 9:18 a.m. EDT (1318 GMT; 9:18 p.m. Beijing time) from the Wenchang Space Launch Site on the island of Hainan and efficiently delivered its payload to geostationary switch orbit (GTO) as deliberate, Chinese space officials said (opens in new tab).
Zhongxing-1E was constructed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). China has mentioned little in regards to the spacecraft, describing it generally phrases as a communications satellite.
“The vague description of the satellite matches statements for earlier Zhongxing-1 series satellites,” Andrew Jones reported for Space News (opens in new tab). “The lack of information and images of the satellite suggests that the satellite series serves military customers.”
The most up-to-date satellite within the collection, Zhongxing-1D, launched in November 2021 atop a Long March 3B rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China, Jones wrote.
“The change of launcher and spaceport for the Zhongxing-1E launch, together with wording in a CAST press release (opens in new tab), suggests a larger, heavier satellite bus than earlier satellites,” he wrote, noting that the Long March 3 is significantly much less highly effective than the 197-foot-tall (60 meters) Long March 7A. “The satellite was also transported by ship from Tianjin to Wenchang, whereas satellites are flown to Xichang.”
But it is also attainable, Jones wrote, that China is solely transferring away from the Long March 3B and towards the 7A for launches to GTO. In addition to being much less highly effective than the 7A, the 3B is significantly older; it debuted in 1996, whereas the 7A’s first profitable flight occurred simply final yr.
China is not alone in setting a breakneck launch tempo this yr. SpaceX has already performed 41 orbital missions in 2022, most of them dedicated to constructing out its enormous Starlink broadband constellation.
Mike Wall is the writer of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a ebook in regards to the seek for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).