China launches two new BeiDou satellites
China added a new pair of satellites to its Beidou positioning and navigation system late Monday, but spent stages from the launch landed within inhabited areas.
A Long March 3B equipped with a Yuanzheng-1 upper stage lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 10:26 p.m. on Dec. 26 successfully delivering two Beidou satellites into medium Earth orbit (MEO).
The YZ-1 upper stage inserted the satellites into 21,532 by 22,193-kilometer orbits inclined by 55 degrees, according to U.S. Space Force space domain awareness. The satellites were developed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) under CASC, the country’s main space contractor.
The spacecraft are the 57th and 58th Beidou satellites to be launched. The pair will act as backups and reduce the operational risks to the Beidou-3 system.