China opens 2014 campaign with secretive satellite launch
The Chinese finally opened their 2014 campaign with the launch of a Shijian-11 class satellite. A Chang Zheng 2C (Long March 2C) rocket lofted a mysterious satellite – understood to be part of the Shijian-11 series of early warning satellites - from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center’s 603 launch pad at the LC43 launch complex at 02:58 UTC.
This is the sixth in a series of satellites that – according to the Chinese media – are only known to be “experimental satellites” developed by the DongFangHong Satellite Company of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
As with the previous Shijian-11 satellites, the true mission of Shijian 11-06 was not revealed by the Chinese authorities. However, some observers noted that the Shijian-11 series could be related to a constellation of operational early warning satellites.
‘Shijian’ means ‘Practice’ and this series of satellites have been used in a variety of configurations and missions for scientific research and technological experiments.
Shijian 11-06 will probably take the place of the first satellite in the series, a spacecraft that was launched almost five years ago.
That first Shijian-11 satellite (36088 2009-061A) was launched at 02:45 UTC on November 12, 2009 by the Long March-2C (Y21) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. This was followed by the second satellite, ShiJian 11-03 (37730 2011-030A), which was lofted into orbit at 04:28 UTC on July 6, 2011, once again by the Long March-2C (Y25) and also from Jiuquan.
Shijian 11-02 (37765 2011-039A) was the third satellite, launched at 07:42 UTC on July 29, 2011 from Jiuquan by the Long March-2C (Y24) launch vehicle. Shijian 11-04 was lost the following August 18 on a rare Long March-2C mishap, although Shijian 11-05 (39202 2013-035A) was successfully launched on July 15, 2013 also by a Long March-2C (Y23) out of Jiuquan.
A Long March-2C carrier rocket carrying China's Shijian-11-06 satellite blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu Province, March 31, 2014. China successfully launched the experimental satellite into preset orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in its northwestern gobi desert on Monday morning.
JIUQUAN, Gansu, China successfully launched an experimental satellite into preset orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in its northwestern gobi desert on Monday morning.
The Shijian-11-06 was boosted by a Long March-2C carrier rocket at 10:58 Beijing Time. The satellite, which was developed by China Spacesat Co. Ltd under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, will be used to conduct scientific experiments in space.
This was the 189th flight of the Long March rocket series.