China has successfully launched its first orbital mission of 2020 aboard a Long March 3B. The rocket carried an experimental communications satellite that was deployed into a geostationary transfer orbit.
The Long March 3B carrying the TJSW-5 communications satellites was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 15:20 UTC yesterday (Jan. 7). Following a successful launch, the satellite separated from the rocket’s upper stage into an elliptical geostationary transfer orbit at an altitude of approximately 36,000 kilometers (22,000 miles).
The TJSW-5 satellite was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. According to government-run Chinese news agency Xinhua, the satellite is expected to be utilized for radio, television and data transmission. Additionally, the satellite is equipped with an experimental high throughput data transfer payload that will be used to verify the technology for future missions.
Yesterday’s launch was the 65 aboard a Long March 3B. The rocket was launched for the first time on Valentine’s day in 1996 and has suffered just one failure (it’s first flight) and two partial failures. The last partial failure of a Long March 3B was on June 19, 2017. Since then, the rocket has completed 25 consecutive missions without a single failure.