Long March 7A, one of China's newest rockets, was launched with a military communications satellite on September 13, 2022. In this context, China signaled the start of the transition to newer rockets with environmentally friendly fuels instead of aging fuels with toxic fuels.
The space program run by China does not reveal details of its civilian launch schedule long in advance. In addition, the details of the country's military satellite missions are even more uncertain. The Chinese Zhongxing 1E communications satellite, launched last week, was placed into orbit with a Long March 7A rocket, while previous Zhongxing military missions had been carried into orbit with Long March 3 rockets.
The Zhongxing 1E satellite was launched on a Long March 7A rocket from the Wenchang spaceport on Hainan Island, the southernmost province of China, on Tuesday, September 13 at 9:18 a.m. EDT. The 60.1-metre rocket headed east from the Wenchang launch base over the South China Sea.
According to independent US military tracking data, Long March 7A placed Zhongxing 1E on an elongated geostationary transfer orbit, with an inclination of 197 degrees to the equator, between 35.785 kilometers and 13,9 kilometers above Earth. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) declared the launch successful.
CASC is the leading state-owned company for China's space program. The Zhongxing 1E spacecraft is expected to use onboard propulsion to make its orbit circular at a constant altitude of about 36.000 kilometers above the equator.
Independent analysts believe the Zhongxing 1E is likely a communications satellite for the Chinese Army. Previous satellites in the Zhongxing 1 series had been launched with rockets that are part of China's Long March 3 family, older generation launchers that burn a toxic mixture of hypergolic propellant such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide.
Zhongxing 1E was built by CASC's subsidiary China Academy of Space Technology. In this context, CASC officials said that they chose the Long March 1A rocket for the launch of Zhongxing 7E due to its "heavy take-off weight" and "the satellite's high vertical center of mass".