China kicked off their 2018 launch calendar with the deployment of two SuperView-1 Earth observation satellites. The Long March 2D Launch vehicle with both Space View satellites aboard lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre at 03:24 GMT on January 9, 2018.
Following the launch, Chinese state media outlets reported that the satellites had been deployed into a Sun-synchronous orbit 530 kilometres above Earth. The satellites are the third and fourth of a 16-satellite Earth observation constellation. Additional satellites for the planned constellation will be launched in the 2020s.
The SuperView-1 will offer similar capabilities to the first two satellites launched in December 2016. Each will provide 0.5-meter panchromatic resolution and 2-meter multispectral resolution. The next four additions to the constellation will be similar optical satellites with superior resolution. Following that, hyperspectral, micro-video, and four x-band synthetic radar (SAR) satellites will be added.
Monday’s launch is the first of three missions China plan to launch this week. The next launch, scheduled for Thursday, January 11 will liftoff from Xichang Satellite Launch Centre aboard a Long March 3B. The launch will look to deploy a pair of Beidou-3 GNSS navigation satellites to a medium Earth orbit.
The third launch within the seven-day window will liftoff on Saturday, January 13 from the Jiuquan Launch centre in the Gobi Desert. The payload and launch vehicle for the third launch is not yet known.
The flurry of early activity from China’s launch providers is all in aid of an ambitious goal of successfully launching 40+ missions in 2018. CASC alone is aiming to launch around 35 times this year. Planned mission from CASIC and commercial providers Landspace and One Space will likely push the country’s launch schedule beyond 40 missions.
Image Credit: Xinhua