The Tianlian 1-04 satellite has been launched by China aboard a Long March-3C carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province.
The satellite—developed by the China Academy of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation—is going to join three predecessors to ensure global network operation for the constellation. The network is fully expected to provide data relay, measurement and control services for China's manned spacecraft, space labs and space stations, as well as comms services for the country's MEO and LEO orbiting resources satellites. Additionally, measurement and control support for China's spacecraft launches will be assisted through the use of Tianlian I-04.
China launched its first data relay satellite—Tianlian 1-01—in April of 2008. The second satellite was launched in July of 2011 and the third in July of 2012. The launch of the Tianlian 1-04 marked the 241st mission of China's Long March series of rockets.
Since China's first experimental communications satellite was launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in 1984, the center has sent more than 100 spacecraft into space in recent decades, including more than 20 BeiDou navigation satellites and the country's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1—the expectations are that 10 or more satellites will be launched from Xichang during 2017..