China confirmed in-orbit refueling !

According to Chinese media (Xinhua news agency) one of satellites launched on atop of Long March 7 rocket on June 25, 2016, performed successful in-orbit refueling of other spacecraft.

Xinhua announced about this success on June 30, 2016. One of the payload known as Tianyuan-1 (earlier known as ZGZ Shiyan Zhuagzhi) was demonstrator of technology of in-orbit refueling. Unfortunately no additional details were given; it was not unveiled which satellite was refueled, no orbit parameters were  announced; it is also not confirmed if refueling device was installed on separate satellite or if it is a part of YZ-1A.  If it is part of YZ-1A, it burned in atmosphere; if it is separate spacecraft it is possible that it is still on orbit and will perform another tests or perform another refueling. We can only assume that refueling process was performed on Low Earth Orbit; first burn of YZ-1A was performed on 287 km x 381 km orbit at 12:55 GMT on June 25, 2016; second burn was on orbit 280 km x 290 km but even this is not sure. Due  the ability for at least two restarts and its operational life of 6 hours still it is possible that YZ-1A change orbit for the third time on June 25. YZ-1A deorbited on June 26, 2016, at 07:30 GMT and burned in atmosphere.

Information on success of refueling mission appeared in statement of National University of Defense Technology. According to statement, refueling process was performed successfully; all parameters were correct (we can assume that these parameters were pressure, temperature and flow of the propellant during refueling):

"The injection process was stable, and measurement and control were precise,"

Xinhua confirmed that Tianyuan-1 sent video from refueling mission so it is possible that after analysis of video it will be possible to determine what kind of satellite was refueled. For the moment it is sure that it is great success of Chinese space industry. NASA along with commercial companies like Orbital ATK still is developing own refueling technology for commercial use; if China will develop this technology earlier and start to offer it on the commercial market, it will surely become one of the most interesting space service offered by CNSA for Companies which are operating expensive satellites.

Sources:
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-06/30/c_135479061.htm

Facebook