China finishes its launch year with two separate Long March launches – one from Jiuquan and one from Xichang

by | Dec 29, 2021 | China, Launches, Satellites

China made two final launches in 2021. It successfully launched a Long March 2D/2 (CZ-2D/2) vehicle from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, China, at 1113 GMT on 29 December. The vehicle was carrying the Tianhui 4 cartography satellite for the PLA (Peoples Liberation Army). This mission may in fact be two spacecraft but this has not yet been confirmed. Surprisingly the spacecraft (singular or plural) was not injected into a slightly retrograde 97.4 degree inclined sun-synchronous orbit as would normally be expected for a Tianhui mapping satellite mission,  but instead was put into a near polar 498 x 483 km  at a the near polar 89 degrees inclination.

Later on the same day, China successfully launched a Long March 3B/G3 (CZ-3B/G3) launch vehicle from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre, China, at 1643 GMT. The vehicle was carrying the TJS 9 (Tongxin Jishu Shiyan 9)  experimental communications/data relay satellite into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). This is thought to be actually a signals intelligence satellite. These two launches are the last planned Chinese launches for 2021.

Phil Hylands contributed to this story.

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