China Set to Launch First Orbital Mission of 2019

China prepare to launch the first orbital mission of 2019 aboard a Long March 3B rocket.
A Long March 3B is prepared for launch at China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Centre | Image credit: CALT

The first orbital mission of 2019 is set to be launched from Chinese shores later today. The launch is expected to deploy the Zhongxing-2D (ChinaSat-2D) communications satellite for the People’s Liberation Army (PLM).

According to airspace closure notifications issued on Wednesday, the satellite is expected to be launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre at 17:05 UTC today. It will be launched aboard a Long March 3B, a rocket that completed 11 missions in 2018 without suffering a single failure.

The Zhongxing-2D is the third next-generation Chinese military communications satellite. Although not much is known about the Shen Tong successor, the satellites are believed to provider Ku-band communication. The satellite is also believed to carry advanced multiple steerable spot beam antenna technologies.

Following this afternoon’s launch, the satellite is expected to be deployed into a geostationary transfer orbit. Later, the satellite will be moved into an orbit 35,786 kilometers above the Earth, providing it with a position relative to Earth.

The United States is expected to follow the year’s first launch soon after with a Falcon 9 carrying 10 Iridium NEXT satellites expected to be launched tomorrow. The mission is currently scheduled to lift off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 15:31 UTC.

Andrew Parsonson is a space enthusiast and the founder of Rocket Rundown. He has worked as a journalist and blogger for various industries for over 5 years and has a passion for both fictional and real-life space travel. Currently, Andrew is the primary writer for Rocket Rundown as we look to expand our reach and credibility.