Tianlian I is China first data-relay satellite to serve as a communications link between ground controllers and the country′s next human space mission
later this year. It will be used to increase communication time with the Shenzhou VII spaceship to be launched in the second half of 2008.
The satellite is the first of several craft designed to alleviate China′s reliance on international ground stations and tracking ships for communications
with the country′s growing fleet of satellites.
The craft was developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology
Corporation. According to China report, the launch is the 105th mission of China′s Long March series of rockets, but the first
mission of the Long March-3C carrier rocket
China′s first Tian Lian data relay satellite was launched on Apr 25 into
a 218 x 41817 km x 18.1 deg transfer orbit. The launch vehicle was the
CZ-3C, a new variant of the CZ-3A series with 2 strapons (compared to
the basic CZ-3A with no strapons and the heavy CZ-3B with 4 strapons).