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.