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China plans record 100 space launches in 2024, including lunar and station missions
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China plans record 100 space launches in 2024, including lunar and station missions
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Feb 27, 2024

Underscoring China's escalating ambitions in outer space, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), the state-owned backbone of the nation's space endeavors, has unveiled plans to execute over 100 launches throughout 2024. This schedule, announced at a recent news conference in Beijing, will set a new high in the volume of space launches conducted by China in a single year.

CASC is tasked with conducting nearly 70 of these missions, which include the deployment of over 290 spacecraft into various orbits. Among the missions outlined by Ma Tao, deputy head of CASC's space program planning department, are two crewed flights and two cargo missions to the Tiangong space station, the Chang'e 6 mission aimed at retrieving samples from the moon's far side, and the inaugural launches of the Long March 6C and Long March 12 carrier rockets.

The Chang'e 6 mission will collect the first-ever samples from the moon's lesser-known far side that will enhance our understanding of the moon's composition and geological history. This endeavor is especially notable given the far side's unexplored terrain and the technical challenges involved in such a mission.

CASC's 2024 launch lineup will predominantly feature the Long March rocket family, a series that has become synonymous with China's space missions. Additional launches are planned using the Smart Dragon secondary rocket series, the Kuaizhou fleet from China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, and several rockets from private sector entities. This diversified launch strategy not only demonstrates CASC's comprehensive capabilities but also underscores the collaborative efforts within China's space sector to achieve these ambitious goals.

Further illustrating the expansive scope of China's space ambitions, Ma also highlighted ongoing research, development, and construction efforts aimed at over 200 spacecraft slated for future launches. These projects encompass a wide range of missions and technologies, including a new-generation crew spacecraft, the Chang'e 7 lunar probe, the Tianwen 2 asteroid explorer, and several advanced satellites. Such initiatives reflect a strategic commitment to advancing China's presence and capabilities in outer space over the coming years.

China's robust launch schedule and successful execution of missions in recent years underscore its position as a significant player on the global space exploration stage. In 2023, China ranked second globally in the number of rocket launches, with a total of 67 missions, 47 of which were attributed to the Long March rocket family. The flawless success rate of these launches further attests to the reliability and efficiency of China's space launch infrastructure and operational expertise.

The announcement from CASC not only highlights China's ongoing advancements in space technology and exploration but also signals its broader ambitions to compete and collaborate on the international space exploration stage. With missions ranging from manned spaceflights to the Tiangong space station, lunar sample return endeavors, and the deployment of advanced satellites and exploratory probes, China is setting the pace for a dynamic and ambitious 2024 in space.

Based on a Xinhua News Agency article

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