A Chinese communications satellite launched Saturday on a Long March rocket, beginning a mission to broadcast civil television and radio signals across China.

Bolted on top of a 180-foot-tall Long March 3B rocket, the Chinasat 6A satellite lifted off from the Xichang space center in southwestern China's Sichuan province at 1614 GMT (12:14 p.m. EDT) Saturday. [Photo of the Chinese rocket launch.]

According to state-run media, the three-stage launcher deployed Chinasat 6A in a super-synchronous transfer orbit with a high point of more than 26,000 miles, a low point of 122 miles and an inclination of 25 degrees.

It was the fourth space launch in five weeks for China, which has now fired eight rockets into orbit since the beginning of the year.

Chinasat 6A will use its own propulsion system to circularize its orbit at an altitude of 22,300 miles above the equator near Indonesia.

The satellite is designed to last 15 years delivering television and radio programming to customers across China, especially in remote and mountainous regions, according to the Xinhua news agency.

China Satellite Communications Corp. will operate the satellite.

Xinhua reported the new spacecraft will back up Chinasat 5C, another communications satellite that launched in 2007.

Chinasat 6A was built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. and is based on the DFH-4 communications satellite bus.

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