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China Launches New Data Relay Satellite
    UPDATED: 2011-07-13
BEIJING, July 12 (China Space News) — China launched its another data relay satellite "Tianlian I-02" on July 11 on a Long March 3C launch vehicle from Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

The LM-3C rocket blasted off at 11:41 p.m. on Monday, and the satellite separated from the launcher 26 minutes later, and entered the geosynchronous transfer orbit successfully, according to the launch center.

Mainly developed by China Academy of Space Technology under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the satellite is the country's second data relay satellite. China launched its first data relay satellite "Tianlian I-01" on April 25, 2008.

The two satellites will form a satellite network to offer data relay, and measurement and control services for China's Shenzhou spacecraft and planned space laboratory and space station construction.

They will also be used to help perform the nation's first space docking, scheduled for the second half of 2011. China's resources satellites in low and middle orbit will also benefit from the new network.

The LM-3C was developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The mission on Monday is the 140th flight of China's Long March series carrier rockets.

The indigenously developed Tianlian I-01 satellite played a significant role in the Shenzhou 7 manned mission. The satellite was able to track around half of the spacecraft's trajectory, which was a significant increase from about 15 percent previously covered using tracking stations and a fleet of ships.