Dong Fang Hong 3

Dong Fang Hong 3 (DFH-3) is a medium-capacity, geostationary communications satellite developed in the 1990s by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). The satellite featured improved capacity and reliability over its predecessor Dong Fang Hong 2. The satellite has also been used as a common bus for other spacecraft.


Name:...............Dong Fang Hong 3 (DFH-3)
Type:...............Government / military, commercial
No. of missions:....7
First mission.......1997
Last mission........2010
Sponsor agency(s)...CASC


China began the develop the second-generation communications satellite in the early 1980s in response to growing demands for larger-capacity communications and broadcasting satellites from both commercial and military sectors. The project was officially approved by the State Council in March 1986. The Ministry of Astronautics signed a contract in 1987 to co-develop the DFH-3 with DASA (now Airbus Defence and Space), China’s first high-profile joint aerospace project with a foreign company.

The development of the DFH-3 took more than eight years. DASA provided overall design guidance, and also contributed the apogee kick stage and components for the communications antennas and solar array deployment mechanism. As the satellite was too heavy for the 1,400 kg-payload CZ-3 launch vehicle, a more capable CZ-3A with a GTO payload capability of 2,600 kg was introduced.

Between 1997 and 2010, a total of seven DFH-3-based satellites were launched, including two commercial and four military missions. Additionally, the DFH-3 satellite bus (including the improved DFH-3A and DFH-3B) have been used on a number of spacecraft including the Beidou series navigation satellites, Tianlian 1 tracking and data relay satellites, and Chang’e lunar orbiting probes.

The box-shaped DFH-3 consists of service section, propulsion section, and communications section, and can carry 24 C-band transponders, providing 6 television channels and 18 communications transmission channels. Alternatively the satellite can carry a variety of payloads for different missions. The satellite has two large solar panels, providing a power supply of 2 kW. It has an orbital mass of 2,200 kg, and designed lifespan of 8 years. The satellite bus is 3-axis stabilised, with a telemetry and tracking system that works in the C-band.

Satellite bus:......DFH-3
Mass (gross)........2,320 kg
Mass (orbital)......1,130 kg
Dimensions:.........2.20 m x 1.72 m x 2.00 m
Solar panel span:...18.10 m
Designed life.......8 years

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Laos signed in March 2010 a contract with China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) for the on orbit delivery of the LaoSat 1 communications satellite. The satellite, based on the improved DFH-3B satellite bus, features 14 C-band and 8 Ku-band transponders and has a service life of 15 years. It is operated by Lao Satellite Joint Venture Co, a collaboration between China APMT Co. and the Lao National Authority for Science and Technology.

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# Date LV Launch Site Pad Payload Status
1 1994-11-30 CZ-3A Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 5 Success
2 1997-05-12 CZ-3A Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 6 Success
3 2000-01-26 CZ-3A Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 22 (FH-1) Success
4 2003-11-14 CZ-3A Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 20 (ST-1) Success
5 2007-06-01 CZ-3A Xichang LC2 Sinosat 3 Success
6 2009-09-12 CZ-3A Xichang LC2 Chinasat 22A (FH-1A) Success
7 2010-11-25 CZ-3A Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 20A (ST-1A) Success
8 2015-11-20 CZ-3B Xichang LC2 LaoSat 1 Success

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