China has successfully launched its fourth data satellite to achieve global network operation that will provide data relay, measurement and control services for its manned spacecraft. The satellite, Tianlian I-04, was launched on a Long March-3C carrier rocket at 11:24 pm Beijing time from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest Sichuan province Wednesday night, state-run Xinhua quoted officials of the centre as saying. Developed by the China Academy of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the satellite will join its three predecessors to achieve global network operation.
The network is expected to provide data relay, measurement and control services for China’s manned spacecraft, space labs and space stations, according to the centre.
The network will also offer data relay services for the country’s medium- and low-Earth orbiting resources satellites, as well as measurement and control support for spacecraft launches.
China launched its first data relay satellite, the Tianlian I-01, in April 2008.
The second satellite was launched in July 2011, and the third was launched in July 2012.
The launch of the Tianlian I-04 marked the 241st mission of China’s Long March series of rockets.
Since China’s first experimental communications satellite was launched in the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in 1984, it has sent more than 100 spacecraft into space in recent decades, including over 20 BeiDou navigation satellites and the country’s first lunar probe, Chang’e-1.
According to the centre, 10 or more satellites will be launched there next year.