China sends homegrown communication satellite into orbit in first launch of 2021
Published: Jan 20, 2021 01:39 AM Updated: Jan 20, 2021 11:39 AM

A Long March-3B carrier rocket blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Nov. 12, 2020. (Photo by Guo Wenbin/Xinhua)

China successfully conducted the year's first space launch early on Wednesday, sending the Tiantong 1-03 mobile telecommunication satellite into a preset orbit from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, marking a perfect start to what is expected to be a fruitful year in aerospace development. 

The Tiantong 1-03 satellite, launched at 0:25 (Beijing Time) by a Long March-3B carrier rocket, entered its planned orbit in a smoothly executed operation, the China National Space Administration said in a statement sent to the Global Times. 

Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology, a subsidiary of China's space giant China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), Tiantong-1 is a homegrown satellite mobile communication system independently developed and built by China. It consists of a space segment, ground segment, and user terminal.

The Tiantong 1-03 satellite will establish a mobile network with ground facilities to provide all-weather, non-stop, stable communication services, such as voice, short messaging and data for users in China, its surrounding areas, and the Middle East, Africa and other regions. Users in most sea areas in the Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean will also be included in the services.

The latest launch was the 358th of the Long March rocket series.

It is worth noting that this is the first rocket launch to have realized de-tasking, meaning the instrument module can be used in other launch missions. The Long March series has been working on the de-tasking design of its compartments to improve the rockets' adaptability.

Furthermore, it was the first time that it was operated by a design system that completely eliminated manual calculation and file delivery, which improved efficiency and reduced risks through automatic data processing. 

CASC has outlined its aim of conducting more than 40 space launch missions in 2021, and the construction of the country's first ever space station will be its top priority. Tianwen-1, China's first Mars probe, was also mentioned in the outline, which will achieve orbiting, landing and roving on Mars.

Global Times

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