China recently launches classified space debris mitigation technology satellite

China recently launches classified space debris mitigation technology satellite

HELSINKI, Finland — Late Saturday, China launched the Shijian-21 satellite from Xichang, ostensibly to test space debris mitigation methods.

Shijian-21 was launched into geosynchronous transfer orbit by a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 9:27 p.m. Eastern on Oct. 23.

Key points:

  • China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation verified their launch success within an hour
  • Reports were disclosed stating that Shijian-21 will “test and confirm space debris mitigation technologies.”
  • It involved a commercial case used for active debris removal
  • In the geostationary orbit case, re-fuelling and repairing satellites or delivering them to graveyard orbits is currently being made worldwide.

More activities in the domain:

About Shijian

Shijian (“practice”) satellites are satellites that demonstrate technology in general. Shijian-17 is an experimental communication and broadcast satellite that was launched in 2016 by the first Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket. In a geostationary orbit, it also performed rendezvous and proximity operations.

The launch of the Long March 3B on Saturday shows that the launcher was not the source of an issue that delayed the launch of Shiyan-10, another secret spacecraft, on September 27.

More about Shijian-10

According to data from the US Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, Shiyan-10 is still altering its orbit and has lifted its perigee to 1,100 kilometers (SPCS). The satellite was reportedly aiming for a geosynchronous orbit with a current apogee of 40,100 kilometers. Neither the CASC nor official media have offered an update on the Shiyan-10 satellite’s condition or situation.

The Long March 3B was supposed to be a workhorse among China’s Long March rockets by the end of 2021, and it appears to be up to the task.

CASC’s 36th launch of the year, and China’s 39th overall, including launches by state-owned spinoff Expace and private venture iSpace. China’s next launch will break the country’s record most orbital launches in a calendar year, surpassing the 39 achieved in 2018 and expected to be surpassed in 2020.

Before the end of the year, CASC plans to offer more than 40 new products. Galactic Energy, a private company, is planning its second launch soon, while Expace’s plans to launch a second Kuaizhou-1A record this year have been hampered by a COVID-19 epidemic.

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