China on Saturday launched a communication satellite into a preset orbit, atop a Long March 3 A carrier rocket from a launch center in southwest China.
Space officials said the China-made Zhongxing-20 satellite was launched at 00:01 a.m. from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province, southwest China.
Twenty-five minutes later, reports from Xi'an Satellite Monitor and Control Center announced the launch successful, saying that the satellite has entered an elliptic orbit with a perigee of 212 kilometers and an apogee of 41981 kilometers. The satellite will be fixed at 103 degrees east longitude over the equator after entering the transfer orbit.
Zhongxing-20, weighing 2.3 tons, is a geostationary communication satellite designed by China Academy of Space Technology with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
With a lift-off mass of 243 tons and a lift-off force of 300 tons, the carrier rocket was developed by the China Academy of Carrier Rocket Technology and could propel mass of 2.6 tons into the geostationary orbit.
The launch is the 73rd by the country's Long March carrier rockets since 1970, and the 32nd consecutive successful launch since October 1996.
Saturday's launch is the fourth within a month after China's first manned space flight on Oct. 15 and 16, the Oct. 21 launch of an earth resources satellite developed in cooperation with Brazil and a smaller satellite, and the Nov. 3 launch of a science satellite.
(Xinhua News Agency November 15, 2003)