China has launched the Hongyun-1 communications satellite into low Earth orbit. The satellite is the first of a planned 156-satellite constellation. The launch was also China’s 37th of 2018.
The Long March 11 carrying the Hongyun-1 satellite launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert at 23:51 UTC (07:51 local time) on December 21. Following the launch, officials from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed the satellite had been deployed successfully.
The 156-satellite Hongyun communications constellation will offer broadband connectively throughout China.
“Using a common expression, we are moving the Internet currently on the ground into the sky.” said Hou Xiufeng, a CASIC spokesman. “The first satellite of the Hongyun Project is China’s first true low-orbit broadband communication satellite, which will greatly promote the development of space sectors, particularly commercial space,”
As the first satellite of the planned communications constellation, the Hongyun-1 will be used to verify the low Earth orbit broadband communications systems. The satellite will also carry a DCS (data collection system), AIS (automatic identification system) and ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance) payloads.
Friday’s launch was the third Long March 11 mission of 2018 and only the fifth since its maiden flight in September 2015. Officials from CASC have confirmed that additional Long March 11 missions are planned for 2019 including the rocket’s first sea launch.