by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Apr 25, 2016
China will launch about 150 of its Long March carrier rockets over the next five years, one of its space chiefs said on Friday, days ahead of celebrations marking the launch of the country's first satellite 46 years ago.
"In the 13th Five-Year Plan period [2016-2020], we will see about 30 launches [of the Long March series] each year," Chen Xuechuan, assistant president of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, told Xinhua.
There were 86 Long March missions in the five years from 2011 to 2015, and 48 from 2006 to 2010.
Chen said China is quickly catching up with other countries after being a relative latecomer in human space endeavors.
The launch of the SJ-10 retrievable scientific research satellite earlier this month marked the 226th mission of the Long March rocket family, and the pace of launches is accelerating.
"Our first 100 Long March missions took us 37 years. But it only took us seven years to complete the latest 100," Chen said.
This year alone, China will conduct more than 20 space missions, including launching two navigation satellites, and a satellite designed for high-definition Earth observation.
China's second orbiting space lab, Tiangong-2, will also be launched in fall this year, and it is scheduled to dock with manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 in the fourth quarter.
Shenzhou-11 will reportedly carry two male Chinese astronauts for a 30-day mission on board Shenzhou-11 and Tiangong-2.
In addition, two new-generation Long March rockets, the heavy-lift Long March-5 and the medium-sized Long March-7, will also make their maiden space trips this year, according to Chen.
He said the two less environmentally damaging models will eventually replace the earlier Long March rockets to meet demand for space launches at home and abroad.
China's first Space Day has been scheduled for April 24, the day in 1970 on which Dong Fang Hong 1, or The East is Red 1, was launched into Earth orbit on a Long March rocket.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
China National Space Administration
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
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