Featured image credit: Xinhua
Lift Off Time
|July 29, 2022 – 13:28 UTC | 21:28 BJT|
|Yaogan 35 Group 03, three Chinese reconnaissance satellites|
|China Aerospace Science Corporation (CASC)|
|Chinese Ministry of National Defense|
|Long March 2D|
|LC-3, Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China|
|Unknown, a maximum of 1,300 kg (2,900 lbs) based on orbital parameters|
Where did the satellites go?
|~500 km circular low-Earth Orbit at 34.99º|
Did they attempt to recover the first stage?
|No, this is not a capability of the CASC|
Where did the first stage land?
|It crashed on land in North-West China|
Did they attempt to recover the fairings?
|No, this is not a capability of CASC|
Were the fairings new?
This was the:
|– 61st launch of a Long March 2D|
– 91st orbital launch attempt of 2022 (88th successful)
Where to watch
How Did It Go?
The China Aerospace Science Corporation successfully launched three Yaogan 35 Group 03 reconnaissance satellites into a ~500 km low-Earth orbit at 34.99 degrees. The trio of satellites was launched on the Long March 2D rocket, from Xichang Satellite Launch Center, in China.
As with most reconnaissance satellites, very few specifics of the actual satellites are known. However, the Chinese government has released some information about the Yaogan constellation. Currently, there are ~94 Yaogan satellites in a variety of orbits, ranging from 35° to 100° and orbital altitudes from 480 km circular orbits to 1,200 km eccentric orbits.
The Yaogan constellation is a Chinese reconnaissance constellation. According to Chinese media, the satellites are used for scientific experimentation, surveying land, assessing crop yields, and monitoring disasters. However, the satellites are likely also used for reconnaissance operations by the Chinese Ministry of Defense.
It is thought that the Yaogan 35 Group 03 satellites are optical satellites, meaning it operates in the visible photon range.
What Is The Long March 2D?
The Long March 2D (also known as the Chang Zheng 2D, CZ-2D, and LM-2D), is a two-stage rocket, predominantly used for launching satellites to low-Earth orbit (LEO) and sun-synchronous-orbit (SSO). The Long March 2D is a two-stage version of the Long March 4, and is the smallest of all the active Long March rockets.
The rocket’s maiden flight was on August 9, 1992, and it has since had a near-perfect launch history, with the only incident being a partial failure on December 28, 2016.
The first stage is 27.91 m in length and uses four YF-21C engines. YF-21C is the name given to the engine when it is part of a module comprised of four YF-20C engines, which burn dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) in a gas generator cycle. Each engine produces 731 kN of thrust at sea level, with a specific impulse (ISP) of 259 seconds. In a vacuum, this increases to 816 kN of thrust with an ISP of 289 seconds due to the larger pressure difference between the MCC and environment.
The second stage is 10.9 m in length and uses a single YF-24C engine; similarly to the first stage engines, the YF-24C burns dinitrogen tetroxide (N2O4) and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) in a gas generator cycle. The name YF-24C means it is part of a module comprising a YF-22 engine and a YF-23 vernier engine for attitude control.