China is expected to launch a pair of Earth observation satellites for Pakistan in June, with the Long March 2C/SMA launch vehicle having recently passed factory inspections ahead of transport to the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a major carrier rocket maker under the main space contractor CASC, announced earlier this week that the Long March 2C/SMA configured rocket with solid-motor upper stage had passed reviews.
The rocket will carry two satellites, the high-resolution electro-optical Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite-1 (PRSS-1), developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a spacecraft designer and manufacturer subordinate to CASC, and the smaller, experimental PakTES-1A, built by the Space and Upper Atmospheric Research Commission (SUPARCO) – Pakistan’s space agency – with assistance from the Space Advisory Company of South Africa.
Qaiser Anees Khurram, the head of SUPARCO, told Gulf News of the UAE in late 2017 that PRSS-1, “will make Pakistan self-reliant in multi-spectral imaging”.
Khurram added that the remote sensing satellite will, “have multiple benefits and practical applications, including agriculture, disaster management, urban planning, forestry, water management, weather forecast and other areas.”
Stacking of the Long March 4C rocket to launch the Gaofen-1 02, 03 and 04 triplets in March 2018 at Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre.
No clear indication of when the launch will take place has been released. Late on Sunday China succeeded with its 15th launch of 2018, sending the Queqiao Chang’e-4 relay satellite and two microsatellites towards the Moon. China could launch as many as 40 times this year.
June could also see the next launch of a pair of Beidou GNSS satellites to medium Earth orbit and the Fengyun-2H weather satellite to geostationary orbit, as the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre continues its hectic 2018 launch schedule.
Long March 2C and upper stage developments
The two-stage, hypergolic Long March 2C has launched 45 times, suffering one failure in 2011, and has lifted off from all three of China’s inland launch sites: Jiuquan, Taiyuan and Xichang. Its previous mission was in January.
The Long March 2C will also loft the China-France Oceanography Satellite (CFOSAT) into space in September this year, according to CALT.
A new upper stage for the Long March 2C, the Yuanzheng-1B, is expected to debut in the near future.
A Yuanzheng-1A upper stage being prepared for integration with a Long March 7 launch vehicle.