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China launches latest Beidou-3M satellite duo

A new pair of navigation satellites were successfully launched by China on Thursday, using a Long March-3B/YZ-1. The launch of the Beidou-3M pair took place at around 23:18 UTC from the LC2 Launch Complex of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, Sichuan province. It took over four hours to complete the mission.The launch was previously scheduled for 2017. However, this was delayed due to a partial launch failure with a previous launch of this rocket during the Zhongxing-9A (ChinaSat-9A) mission, which resulted in the satellite being lofted to a lower than planned orbit. It is expected that the Beidou-3MEO3 (Beidou-26) and Beidou-3MEO4 (Beidou-27) satellites will be onboard, but a TV news report following last November’s BDS launch – featuring the satellite production facility in Shanghai – referred that the two satellites about to be shipped were marked as “M7 & M8”. So, we will have to wait what designation is given to the satellites when in orbit.

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