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China launches SinoSat-3 communications satellite

China launches its SinoSat-3 communications satellite to relay radio and television broadcasts.

world Updated: Jun 01, 2007 13:46 IST

China launched its SinoSat-3 communications satellite on Friday to relay radio and television broadcasts.

The satellite was launched on a Long March-3A carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in the southwestern province of Sichuan and successfully entered its preset orbit 24 minutes after the launch, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China's 12.6 million digital television subscribers and 400 million television sets give it a huge potential market for satellite television broadcasts.

Broadcast satellite SinoSat-2 was launched last October but malfunctioned and will not be replaced for at least three years, said officials.

It was not clear if SinoSat-3 would replace part of the services of SinoSat-2, the agency said. The French made SinoSat-1 was launched in July 1998 to carry Chinese radio and television TV broadcasts for the Asia-Pacific Region.

Friday's launch marked the 100th flight of a Long March series carrier rocket.

China has launched about 50 satellites aboard Long March rockets, which also carried the country's first manned space flight in 2003.

Earlier this month, it launched a communications satellite for Nigeria, signalling the emergence of its commercial launching services for foreign satellites.

Many of China's satellites are believed to have dual civilian and military uses.

An ambitious space programme includes plans to launch an orbital moon probe this year and assemble a permanent space laboratory by 2020.

China tested an anti-satellite missile in January but said it remained committed to "peaceful use of outer space."