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March 29, 2018
Long March 3B carrying pair of Beidou-3 MEO satellites lift off.Image Credit: CNS
A Long March-3B/YZ-1 has orbited a new pair of navigation satellites in what was China’s ninth launch of the year. The launch of Beidou-3MEO5 (or Beidou-30) and Beidou-3MEO6 (or Beidou-31) took place at 17:56 UTC from the LC2 Launch Complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province. It will take over four hours to complete the mission.
The MEO satellites are the Medium Earth Orbit component of the third phase of the Chinese Beidou (Compass) satellite navigation system. The satellites are part of a fleet that will expand the system to a global navigation coverage.
Beidou-3 navigation satellites launched by Long March-3B
The satellites are using a new bus that features a phased array antenna for navigation signals and a laser retroreflector, with a launch mass 1,014 kg. Spacecraft dimensions are noted to be 2.25 by 1.0 by 1.22 meters. Usually, the satellites reside in a 21,500 – 21,400 km nominal orbit at 55.5 degrees.
BeDou-3 satellite. Image Credit: J. Huart
The Beidou Phase III system includes the migration of its civil Beidou 1 or B1 signal from 1561.098 MHz to a frequency centered at 1575.42 MHz – the same as the GPS L1 and Galileo E1 civil signals – and its transformation from a quadrature phase shift keying (QPSK) modulation to a multiplexed binary offset carrier (MBOC) modulation similar to the future GPS L1C and Galileo’s E1.
For more information about China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), visit: http://english.spacechina.com/n16421/index.html
Images (mentioned), Video, Text, Credits: SciNews/NASA Spaceflight.com/Rui C. Barbosa.