Nation plans 100 space missions this year

2024-02-27 08:20:02China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

A Long March 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou XVII spacecraft lifts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in October. (Photo by ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY)

China plans to carry out about 100 space launch missions this year, making it a very busy time for the nation's space industry.

The record-setting launch schedule was unveiled on Monday by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, a State-owned conglomerate and the nation's leading space contractor, at a news conference in Beijing.

The company will be responsible for nearly 70 of the planned missions, deploying over 290 spacecraft into orbit, said Ma Tao, deputy head of its space program planning department.

Notable spaceflights for the year will include two crewed journeys and two cargo missions to the Tiangong space station, the Chang'e 6 robotic expedition to the moon's far side, and the maiden flights of the Long March 6C and Long March 12 carrier rockets.

Experts said the year's most significant launch will be the Chang'e 6 expedition, tasked with bringing back the first samples from the little-known lunar far side.

"If everything goes according to plan, the spacecraft will touch down in the South Pole-Aitken Basin, and collect dust and rock samples from there," Ma said.

The United States, the former Soviet Union and China have brought lunar samples back to Earth, but none of these countries have ever obtained samples from the moon's far side, most of which is never visible from Earth.

Ma said the space contractor will launch several state-of-the-art spacecraft this year, ranging from a satellite dedicated to monitoring ocean salinity to an astronomical satellite jointly made by Chinese and French scientists.

The majority of the planned launches will be conducted by the State-owned company's Long March rocket family, with additional launches by its secondary rocket series called Smart Dragon, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp's Kuaizhou fleet, and several models from private companies.

Ma said the nation's leading space contractor will also continue its efforts in the research, development and construction of over 200 spacecraft to be launched in the coming years. They include a new-generation crewed spaceship, the Chang'e 7 lunar probe, the Tianwen 2 asteroid explorer and several advanced satellites.

The company will build more than 230 rockets in 2024, which will be used this year and in the coming years, he added.

Last year, China ranked second globally in terms of launch numbers. It carried out 67 rocket launches, with 47 involving the Long March family, all of which were successful.

Besides State-owned contractors, private enterprises have become a new power in China's rocket industry, with their growth being fast-tracked. Twelve rockets built by Chinese private companies were used last year to send satellites into space, far more than in previous years.

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