China has launched the fourth in its series of Tianlian-1 satellites which are used to relay communications from other spacecraft to ground stations. The launch of the Long March 3C carrying the Tianlian 1D (Tianlian 1-04) spacecraft occurred at 1524 GMT from the Xichang launch site. The satellite was injected into a super-synchronous transfer orbit of 41,776 x 201 km at 17.4 degrees inclination (US Stratcom orbital data supplied via Jonathan McDowell) on its way to its geostationary operating position.
The 2,462 kg spacecraft uses a CAST-built DFH-3A bus design and is designed to last 8 years. The Tianlian “Skylink” system is said to be the equivalent of NASA’s TDRS system.