Tianlian (Sky Link)

Tianlian (TL, “Sky Link”) is the tracking and data relay satellite (TDRS) designed and developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST). Its onboard mission payload was developed by the Beijing-based Space Star Technology Co. Ltd., a commercial subsidiary of CAST. The satellite was designed to provide long-duration, high-coverage space-to-ground voice and data communications, similar in concept to the NASA Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System.

Name:...............Tianlian (TL)
Discipline:.........Tracking and data relay
Type:...............Government / military
No. of missions:....3
First mission.......2008
Last mission........2012
Sponsor agency(s)...PLA
Contractor(s).......CAST (prime)
                    Space Star Technology (mission payload)

Tianlian 1

The first-generation Tianlian 1 (TL-1), based on the DFH-3A satellite bus, operates on geostationary orbit. It can provide low-, medium-, and high-speed data communications between orbiting spacecraft and ground terminals in the Ka- and S-band from Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO). A total of three satellites have been launched since 2008, primarily to provide voice and data communications for China’s human spaceflight missions. In addition, it may have been used to provide data relay for China’s Yaogan series reconnaissance satellites.

The first experimental satellite Tianlian 1-01 was launched on 25 April 2008 and later positioned at 77°E on GEO. The system was tested for the first time during the Shenzhou 7 human spaceflight mission in September 2008. Tianlian 1-02 was launched in July 2011 prior to China’s first rendezvous docking operation between Tiangong 1 and Shenzhou 8, and is positioned at 176.77°E. Tianlian 1-03 was launched o 25 July 2012 and positioned at 20.3°E. The three satellites together provide a near 100% coverage for orbiting spacecraft.

Satellite bus:......DFH-3A
Mass:...............N/A
Dimensions:.........N/A
Solar panel span:...N/A
Orbit:..............GEO
Stabilisation.......3-axis
Designed life.......5 to 8 years

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Missions

# Date LV Launch Site Pad Payload Status
1 2008-04-25 CZ-3C Xichang LC2 Tianlian 1-01 Success
2 2011-07-11 CZ-3C Xichang LC2 Tianlian 1-02 Success
3 2012-07-25 CZ-3C Xichang LC2 Tianlian 1-03 Success

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