Chinese heavy communications satellite Shijian-18 will be launched in June 2017

CNSA, Chinese space agency is planning to launch in June heavy communications satellite, Shijian-18. It will be heaviest satellite launched in the history of Chinese space program with estimated weight exceeding 7 metric tons. Satellite will be delivered to GTO orbit on the top of the Long March 5 rocket, which was delivered to Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in the end of April. Rocket was designed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and is able to deliver to GTO orbit even 14 tons of payload. Its maiden flight took place on November 3, 2016, when rocket delivered to GTO orbit Shijian-17 satellite after dramatic start from LC-1 launch site at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.

Long March 5 is liquid fueled rocket designed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). Depending on configuration it can use 0, 2 or 4 boosters combined with core based on 2 or 3 stages. Rocket was designed as more environment friendly, what is in fact new trend in designing process of Chinese rockets. Boosters are fueled with RP-1/LOX; first and second stages of the core of the rocket are fueled with LH/LOX. Rocket length is planned for 62 m with diameter at 5 m and total mass at 867 t in largest version. Rocket will be able to deliver 25 t of payload to LEO orbit with altitude of 200 km and 14 t to GTO. CALT also designed restartable upper stage Yuanzheng-2 (YZ-2), which can be used for Long March 5. It is long for with diameter of 5.2 m and mass of 1800 kg. Payload fairing for Long March 5 has maximal dimensions of 12.5 m (length) x 5.2 m (diameter).

Shijian-18 is experimental communications satellite designed by China Academy of Space Technology. It was based on DFH-5 bus powered with two deployable solar arrays and onboard batteries. It will operate on GEO orbit after reaching orbital position with LIPS-300 ion thrusters. Satellite will provide communications services over territory of China: onboard transponders will improve access to internet and allow to have more television channels.

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