A Long March 3B/G2, upgraded version of the Long March 3B successfully launched the Apstar 9 communications satellite from the Xichang launch site in China. The launch took place at 1616 GMT on 16 October. The spacecraft, which uses a CAST-built DFH-4, was built in a turnkey contract including construction and launch under the auspices of China Great Wall Industries Corp (CGWIC) for the APT Satellite Company Limited. It carries 14 Ku-band and 32 C-band transponders and will be operated over 142 degrees East in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO). Space News reports that the satellite replaces Apstar 9A, which was really ChinaSatcom’s Chinasat 5A holding the position for Apstar 9 for a fee of US$3 million.
On the same day as the launch, APT Satellite Company Limited signed another turnkey construction and launch order for a satellite with CGWIC, this time for Apstar 6C. This satellite will again use a CAST-built DFH-4 bus/platform. As part of the contract the launch by a Long March rocket is set to take place in the first half of 2018. The US$180 million contract will be paid for in stages as milestones are achieved. The final payment of US$8 million will be paid once testing is completed.