Long March 11 scheduled to orbit nine small satellites Friday
China is preparing to perform its fourth launch of this year, with the flight scheduled for Friday, Jan. 19, 2018. The mission will see a Long March 11 booster sending nine satellites into space.
The rocket is set to take to the skies from Launch Area 4 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) in China’s Gansu province. The exact time of the launch has yet to be announced.
Friday’s mission is slated to orbit a variety of small satellites designed for Earth observation, communications and technology demonstration purposes. However, although the mission includes one payload for a foreign country, China revealed very little information about the flight and pre-launch preparations.
Beijing has not disclosed any information about the flight timeline either. It is only known that all passengers of the Long March 11 booster will be inserted into a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
The Earth-observing payload of Friday’s mission consists of two identical Jilin-1 satellites, designated Jilin-1 07 and 08, developed and produced by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd. Each Jilin-1 spacecraft weighs around 209 pounds (95 kilograms) and has dimensions of 3.6 by 3.9 feet (1.1 by 1.19 meters). The satellites feature a fixed solar array and are designed to offer their services for more than three years.
Jilin-1 are described as commercial remote sensing satellites designed to provide high-definition video imaging. In particular, if everything goes as planned, the satellites will deliver imaging, video, multispectral, and wide swath coverage of the ground from low-Earth orbit (LEO). The data obtained by these spacecraft is planned for use with land resources monitoring, land surveying and mapping, mineral resources development, city construction, agriculture yield estimation, environmental monitoring, disaster prevention, and other services.
Jilin-1 07 and 08 will join the six other Jilin-1 satellites that are currently in orbit. The next four spacecraft in the series are planned to be launched into space by the end of 2018. In 2020, Chang Guang Satellite Technology aims to have a network of 60 spacecraft in service, hoping that it will provide a 10-minute revisit capability of satellites anywhere in the world. By 2030, this network should expand to some 137 satellites.
On the mission’s manifest is a quartet of six-unit CubeSats known as Xiaoxiang (Xiaoxiang 2, 3, 4 and 5). Developed by Changsha Gaoxinqu Tianyi Research Institute, the satellites are technology demonstrators designed to test a stabilization system for precise, stabilized camera pointing.
Xiaoxiang satellites weigh approximately 17.6 lbs. (eight kilograms) and feature two deployable fixed solar arrays. The quartet will reside in SSO at an altitude of about 310 miles (500 kilometers).
Another technology demonstrator that is set to be launched Friday is the Huaian satellite developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). It is a small satellite, probably a two-unit CubeSat, with a mass of about 4.4 lbs. (two kilograms). According to Chinese media, Huaian employs mature micro-nano satellite technology, integrates monitoring and control management, image data transmissions and voice data forwarding.
Long March 11 is also being primed to send one more Chinese spacecraft into space – the Quantutong 1 communications satellite for All Graphic Location Network Co. However, no detailed information about the spacecraft was provided by China.
The Long March 11 is a small, solid-fueled quick-reaction launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). It uses the most powerful solid-rocket motor that China currently manufactures and is mainly used for launching micro-satellites.
The 68-foot (20.8-meter) tall Long March 11 measures some 6.6 feet (2 meters) in diameter and is capable of sending up to 1,500 lbs. (700 kilograms) to LEO and 770 lbs. (350 kilograms) to a SSO. The rocket uses three solid-fueled stages with an auxiliary liquid-fueled upper module for precise insertion capability. The vehicle is utilized via a launch tube mounted on a road mobile vehicle.
To date, the Long March 11 booster has only flown to space two other times – on September 24, 2015 and on November 10, 2016.
Tomasz Nowakowski is the owner of Astro Watch, one of the premier astronomy and science-related blogs on the internet. Nowakowski reached out to SpaceFlight Insider in an effort to have the two space-related websites collaborate. Nowakowski's generous offer was gratefully received with the two organizations now working to better relay important developments as they pertain to space exploration.
Kepler did not launch on India’s rocket last week and there has been no confirmation that they will launch on the Long March 11. You need to do some fact checking before publishing.
Jan. 17, 2018
Gunter’s Space Page and Wikipedia state otherwise. While we appreciate help improving our reporting – the tone of your message was uncalled for – especially considering the fact credible sources state what we reported is accurate.
I think you’re confusing the Kepler Space Telescope with the Kepler 1 and Kepler 2 satellites noted in this article. An understandable mistake on your part.
Jason Rhian – Editor, SpaceFlight Insider
Nothing was meant in my tone. I was trying to point out a correction that needed to be made. I cover the Canadian space sector on a daily basis.
1. The CEO of Kepler Communications told me they were not on the Indian PSLV-C40 launch ahead of the launch.
2. ISRO in their media kit/brochure made no mention of Kepler.
3. It is clear from the ISRO webcast as they listed the satellites being deployed that Kepler was not among them.
Hence Wikipedia is wrong in saying a Kepler Communications satellite is in orbit as a result of the PSLV-C40 launch. You can confirm with this by search Space Track.
Secondly, Gunter removed Kepler from the PSLV-C40 launch page.
With respect to China’s Long March 11 upcoming launch Gunter has no confirmation source that Kepler Communications is on the manifest. In fact he has question mark next to the name. As for Wikipedia, it once again only cites Gunter.
As you know sources need to be confirmed and with launches sometimes one launch calendar follows another which follows another. But doing some digging and you can usually learn if there are clearly confirmed citations.
Jan. 18, 2018
In terms of PSLV, you’re correct. In terms of China? The fact we had the information we did – is a minor miracle. In this case, what sources we had failed us. It’s frustrating that, rather than criticize the source of the misinformation, people criticize those who report what information they have been given (and we’ve noted the sources cited have “corrected” what they initially posted). The article has been amended.
Jason Rhian – Editor, SpaceFlight Insider