A Long March 3C rocket launched the spacecraft from the Xichang Spaceport at 1548 UTC on 17 May.
The satellite was successfully placed into an elliptical transfer orbit with a perigee of ~22,000 miles (~35,000 km) above Earth. The spacecraft’s on-board engine will circularise the orbit over a few weeks to achieve a geostationary equatorial orbit (GEO).
This was the 45th BeiDou satellite launched since 2000 and the second launched so far this year. Not all remain operational. China has stated that 8-10 Beidou satellites would be launched in 2019.
The complete system will comprise 35 operational satellites:
- 27 in medium earth orbit (MEO)
- 5 in GEO
- 3 in inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO)
Full Operational Capability (FOC), providing global coverage with compatibility with GPS and Galileo, is scheduled for early 2020. Claimed positioning accuracy is ‘2.5 metres’.