Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China Launches its First Mobile Telecommunications Satellite

Telecom sat

(Photo : CCTV) Long March 3B carrying Tiantong-01

China's military-led space program has orbited Tiantong-01, the country's first mobile telecommunications satellite.

Tiantong-01 was carried into orbit on Aug. 6 by a Long March-3B rocket launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China.

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Chinese state media said Tiantong-01 will establish a mobile network with ground facilities providing services for China, the Middle East, Africa and other areas. The ground service will be operated by China Telecom, which is owned by the Chinese government.

Development of Tiantong-01 began after the deadly Wenchuan earthquake in 2008. The satellite aims to significantly enhance China's mobile telecommunication capabilities. It was designed by the China Academy of Space Technology.

Tiantong-01 will provide emergency telecommunications when ground telecom infrastructure is damaged by natural disasters or a war, for example. It can also be useful in undersea oil exploration and the protection of forests as it can provide seamless coverage of oceans, mountains and plateaus.

The Long March-3B was produced by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. It was the 232nd flight of the Long March series rockets, and the 36th launch of the Long March-3B

Its maiden flight took place in May 2007 when it successfully launched Nigeria's NigComSat-1, the first African geosynchronous communications satellite. In 2013, it successfully launched China's first lunar lander Chang'e 3 and lunar rover Yutu.

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