China Successfully Launches Fourth Data Satellite ‘Tianlian I-04’
China recently launched the Tianlian I-04, the country's fourth data satellite, to facilitate worldwide network operations that will provide control services, measurement and data relay for its manned spacecraft, space stations and space labs.
A Long March-3C carrier rocket launched the satellite at 11:24 p.m. Beijing time on Wednesday, from southwest Sichuan province's Xichang Satellite Launch Centre.
Tianlian I-04, which has been developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), will join its three predecessors to fulfill global network operation, Xinhua reported. Incidentally, the Tianlian I-01, Tianlian I-02 and Tianlian I-03 were launched in April 2008, July 2011 and July 2012, respectively. The launch of the fourth data satellite makes it the 241st mission of Long March series of rockets for China.
The country has launched more than 100 spacecrafts into space in the past few years since the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre saw the first experimental communications satellite taking off in 1984. The recent launches by the nation include its first lunar probe the Chang'e-1 and more than 20 BeiDou navigation satellites. According to official reports, 2017 will see the launch of 10 or more satellites.
China has slowly and steadily proven that its space agency is not lagging behind that of any other nations when it comes to space exploration. Recently, two Chinese astronauts successfully completed a month-long stint on the Tiangong-1 space station, making it the country's longest manned space mission.
Earlier this year, in August, China became the first nation in the world to successfully launch a quantum satellite into space. The satellite, which weighs 631 kg and named after ancient Chinese scientist Micius, has ultra-high security features that allow "hack-proof" communications between the space and the ground. The country had also announced in August that it was working on a hypersonic space plane, which will supposedly be the next breakthrough in spaceflight.