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China Launches Another Compass/Beidou-2 GEO Satellite

Long March Rocket with Beidou-Compass G4.jpgCompass G4 satellite and Long March rocket on Xichang launch pad displays new Beidou logo. (Click image to enlarge.)
October 31, 2010
Inside GNSS, November/December 2010

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[UPDATED Oct. 31, 2010) China has launched its fourth Compass/Beidou-2 satellite this year, shortly after midnight today (November 1, 2010, local time) from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.

This is the sixth satellite in the second-generation Beidou constellation. The spacecraft will join three other GEOs, a middle Earth orbiting spacecraft, and an inclined geosynchronous orbiting (IGSO) satellite.

Another the BeiDou-2 satellite, the second IGSO Compass-I2, will be launched before the end of the year, according to a NASASpaceFlight report. For the first time the Long March 3C launch vehicle had the Compass logo imprinted on the satellite faring: a blue circle containing the Big Dipper constellation, Earth map gridlines, and Compass satellite navigation system in English and Chinese (Beidou).

In an interview posted on the Beidou website, launch commandder Cen Zheng indicated that the Compass G4 spacecraft weighs more than three tons, requiring the 3.8-ton lifting capacity of the Long March 3C launcher. This is the first rocket to carry the new Compass logo, Cen said.

An interview with Compass satellite chief designer Xie Jun, also posted on the website, revealed that the design team is working toward a satellite "batch production" capability.

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