China Launches Satellite on April 12, the 56th Anniversary of the First Human Spaceflight
China for the first time launched a satellite on April 12, the 56th anniversary of history's first human spaceflight that saw Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin become the first person to orbit the Earth.
Gagarin was also the first human to travel into space. He achieved this feat aboard the Soviet spacecraft, Vostok-1. This historic day has since been celebrated as the International Day of Human Spaceflight.
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Shijian-13 is an experimental geostationary communications satellite that will test electric propulsion on a DFH-3B bus. It will be renamed ZX 16 or ChinaSat 16 after the experimental phase.
The satellite carries China's first high-throughput satellite payload (HTS) with a capacity of 20 gigabits per second. Its transfer capacity of 20 gigabits per second capacity is larger than all of China's communications satellites combined.
It will provide Ka-band satellite broadband and multimedia services. Shijian-13 will enable better internet access in less-developed regions of China, as well as on airplanes and high-speed trains.
She was launched aboard a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest Sichuan Province at 7:04 p.m. on April 12.
Shijian-13 is also the first Chinese satellite powered by electricity. This method of propulsion will improve its efficiency by as much as 10 times compared to satellites using chemicals as propellant.
"The launch is a milestone for China's communications satellite technology," said Tian Yulong, chief engineer of the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
A large number of domestic components were used to build Shijian-13. It also has the first laser communications system installed on a Chinese satellite in geostationary orbit.
The satellite and the rocket were designed by academies affiliated with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., and the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology respectively.
China plans to launch six communications satellites this year. Shijian-18 will be orbited in June to test the DFH-5 satellite platform.
By 2025, China will have 22 communication satellites. Five of these will be based on new designs, according to a medium-long term development plan for civilian space infrastructure released in 2015.