China’s Zhongxing-9A is a possible satellite to apply new in-orbit satellite transport vehicle technology, extending the lifetime of the telecommunications spacecraft. Credit: CCTV/Screengrab


Select Chinese satellites are to get a re-boost according to China’s Science and Technology Daily. The vehicle would use a robotic arm to dock with the spacecraft, and then carry the satellite to maintain its original orbit.

Simpler, efficient option

The vehicle is being developed by an academy affiliated to the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, noted today by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Hu Di, the chief designer of the vehicle, said compared with foreign research that focuses on refueling satellites that have run out of fuel, their option is much simpler and efficient, according to Xinhua.

Candidate satellite

The satellite transport vehicle will reportedly take about two years to complete.

One Chinese satellite is listed to possibly be boosted by the carrier craft.

Last year, China’s communications satellite Zhongxing-9A failed to enter the preset orbit after launch.

Ground controllers were able to nudge that spacecraft to a correct orbit – but that space maneuvering took two weeks and used large gulps of fuel, shortening the satellite’s working life.

Orbit adjustments

Zhongxing-9A communications satellite (Chinasat-9A was launched by a Long March-3B rocket on June 18, 2017, but abnormal performance during the third phase failed to deliver the satellite as planned. After conducting 10 orbit adjustments with its onboard thrusters, Zhongxing-9A reach its preset orbit.

Zhongxing-9A is the first Chinese-made satellite for live radio and television broadcasts.

Hu’s team has listed Zhongxing-9A as a potential satellite on which to apply the new in-orbit satellite transport vehicle technology.

Go to this China Central Television video showing launch and final positioning of Zhongxing-9A at:

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