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Nine JL-1-GF03 satellites launched, increasing commercial offering in satellite constellation plan

On 15 September 2020, China successfully launched nine Jilin-1 GF-03 which will further increase the Earth Observation satellite portfolio commercialized by HEAD Aerospace. Jilin-1 GF-03 is part of the Jilin-1 constellation operated and developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. who is the strategic partner of HEAD Aerospace.

The successful launch of the nine satellites of Jilin-1-GF-03 is part of the constellation of 54 submeter satellites enabling imaging anywhere on earth every 10 minutes from 10 to 16 clock. By the end of 2021, the Jilin-1 constellation expects to be composed of 60 satellites in orbit. By the end of 2025, the full constellation of 138 satellites will be in orbit, resulting in round-the-clock, all-weather, full-spectrum data acquisition, capable of providing geospatial information products and services of the highest temporal and spatial resolution globally.

HEAD has access to more than 30 civilian and commercial satellites including Jilin-1 constellation as part of its integrated offer thought its HEADFinder online archive portal. The successful launch of the nine Jilin-1 GF03 satellites will further increase the satellite portfolio of HEAD in additional to the current satellite portfolio, in which 15+ satellites offers sub-meter resolution satellite imagery.

Jilin-1 GF-03 launched from a platform on the Yellow Sea with the Long March-11 rocket, entered the scheduled orbit smoothly, marking a complete success of this record-breaking launch mission. This mission was the first time that China launched satellites at sea in the way of 'one rocket and nine stars', creating a new record for China space launch.

Jilin-1 satellites use the mature platform tested by Jilin-1 GF03A, which adopts lightweight structural design, highly integrated electronics system, high-resolution ultra-light low-cost camera, and other innovative technologies. The weight of an entire satellite is controlled at 40kg for nine satellites to be launched by one small rocket; thus, significantly reduce the deployment cost of the constellation of 54 submeter satellites.

Six satellites out of nine are linear push-broom imaging satellites. They deliver images of 17km swath, with panchromatic resolution better than 1m, and multispectral resolution better than 4m. Three of them produce color video images with resolution better than 1.2m and a coverage area of not less than 14.4km*6km. The successful launch of this series of satellites marks the change of the manufacturing mode of 'Jilin-' satellite from "research and development" to "production", which means the constellation enters a stage of high-frequency launches.

So far, the number of satellites of Jilin-1 constellation on-orbit has increased to 25. The constellation has the capability of covering a whole country seven times a year and the entire world twice a year, which exceedingly enriches the remote sensing data and services for global governmental, commercial, and private customers.

This mission was the twelfth launch of the Jilin-1 constellation. The satellites launched today are in the orbit of 9:20, 535km above the earth. Next year, two other batches of 9 satellites of the same design and capabilities will also be launched and deployed in the orbit of 10:40 AM and 1:20 PM respectively of the same height.

Telemetry from all nine satellites was received, the telecommands link has established with all the satellites, and the optical payload commissions started.

Left: Nine Jilin-1 GF03 satellites undergoing the final test in manufacturing

Right: Nine Jilin-1 GF03 are ready to ship to launch site

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