Dong Fang Hong 4

Dong Fang Hong 4 (DFH-4) is China’s third-generation geostationary telecommunications satellite bus, designed to provide a high-capacity, long-endurance platform for TV broadcasts, voice and data communications, tracking and data relay, and regional mobile communications satellites. It can also be used for navigation and deep space exploration missions. The satellite has a mission payload capacity of 595 kg and a designed operational life of 15 years, making it in the same class as the Lockheed Martin A2100AX and Space Systems/Loral FS1300.

Name:...............Dong Fang Hong 4 (DFH-4)
Discipline:.........Communications
Type:...............Government / military, commercial
No. of missions:....15
First mission.......2006
Last mission........2016
Sponsor agency(s)...CASC
Contractor(s).......CAST

Dong Fang Hong 4 (DFH-4) is China’s third-generation geostationary telecommunications satellite bus, designed to provide a high-capacity, long-endurance platform for TV broadcasts, voice and data communications, tracking and data relay, and regional mobile communications satellites. It can also be used for navigation and deep space exploration missions. The satellite has a mission payload capacity of 595 kg and a designed operational life of 15 years, making it in the same class as the Lockheed Martin A2100AX and Space Systems/Loral FS1300.

The high-capacity and long-endurance communications satellite for both civilian and military missions was a key project in China’s 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-2005). Preliminary concept development of the third-generation communications satellite began in the late 1990s and the project was approved by COSTIND in October 2001. The engineering development of the satellite began in January 2002, with China Academy of Science Technology (CAST) as the prime contractor. Production of the first satellite, debuted SINOSAT 2, began in 2003. The satellite was launched on 28 October 2006.

The DFH-4 project suffered initial failures, with the first two satellites (SinoSat 2 and NigComSat 1) both failing to deploy their solar panel wings. After the replacement of the original two-stage solar wing deployment method with a less complex single-stage deployment method (at an expense of lower power output), subsequent missions were all successful.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has been actively marketing DFH-4 to international customers through its trading company, China Great Wall Industries Corporation (CGWIC). The satellite has been promoted at a discounted price compared with similar systems offered by U.S. and European satellite manufacturers. CASC/CGWIC also offer an ‘in-orbit delivery’ package, which includes the design and fabrication of the satellite, launch service using Chinese launcher, construction of ground stations, training of local technical staff, and finance options. The package was particular attractive to developing countries with a limited budget. So far, Nigeria, Venezuela, Pakistan, Laos, and Belarus have all signed up for the package.

Dong Fang Hong 4 is a three-axis stabilised spacecraft, with a designed lifespan of 15 years. The satellite weighs 5,100 to 5,400 kg at launch and can carry 600 to 800 kg payload and 3,100 kg fuel. The satellite consists of mission payload and service section. It was fitted with two solar wings each made of four solar panels, which can provide 6-8 kW electrical power for the onboard mission payload. The satellite was launched onboard the CZ-3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre (XSLC), but could also be adapted to a European or Russian launch vehicle.

Satellite bus:......DFH-4
Mass (gross)........5,100 kg
Mass (payload)......600 kg
Mass (fuel).........3,100 kg
Dimensions:.........2.36 m x 2.10 m x 3.60 m
Solar panel span:...N/A
Orbit:..............GEO
Stabilisation.......3-axis
Solar panel power...10.5 kW
Payload power.......8 kW
Designed life.......15 years

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Missions

# Date LV Launch Site Pad Payload Status
1 2006-10-28 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 SinoSat 2 Failure [1]
2 2007-05-13 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 NigComSat-1 Failure [2]
3 2008-10-29 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 VeneSat 1 (Simon Bolivar 1) Success
4 2010-09-04 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 6A (SinoSat 6) Success
5 2011-06-20 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 10 (SinoSat 5) Success
6 2011-08-11 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 Paksat 1R Success
7 2011-09-18 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 1A (FH-2A) Success
8 2011-12-19 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 NigComSat-1R Success
9 2012-05-26 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 2A (ST-2A) Success
10 2013-05-01 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 11 Success
11 2013-12-20 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 Túpac Katari 1 Success
12 2015-10-16 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 APStar 9 Success
13 2015-11-03 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 2C (ST-2C) Success
14 2015-12-09 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 ChinaSat 1C (FH-2C) Success
15 2016-01-15 CZ-3B/E Xichang LC2 Belintersat 1 (ChinaSat 15) Success

Note:

[1] After launch, the satellite’s solar panels and communications antenna failed to deploy, making the satellite unusable.

[2] On 11 November 2008, NigComSat-1 failed in orbit after running out of power due to an anomaly in its solar array.

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