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Long March rockets mark their 500th spaceflight
A Long March 2D carrier rocket carrying several remote-sensing satellites blasts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan province, Dec 10, 2023.
Long March rockets mark their 500th spaceflight
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 12, 2023

China's Long March rocket family has achieved a milestone with its 500th spaceflight, using a Long March 2D carrier rocket to deploy several remote-sensing satellites. This event, which took place on Sunday morning from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province, underscores China's growing prowess in space technology.

The launch, conducted at 9:58 am, was visually striking, with the rocket emitting red-orange flames against the bright sky, an image captured and published by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology. This marks not only the 500th flight for the Long March series but also the 59th rocket launch by China this year and the 13th flight for the Long March 2D model in 2023.

The Long March rockets, predominantly developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, subsidiaries of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), have maintained an impressive success rate of around 97 percent.

Among these, the Long March 2D stands out for its reliability. Since its first flight in August 1992, the rocket has successfully completed 85 flights. Measuring 40.6 meters in height and with a diameter of 3.35 meters, it has a liftoff weight of 251 metric tons. Its primary role is transporting satellites into low-Earth or sun-synchronous orbits. The rocket's capability includes delivering a 1.3-ton spacecraft to a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700 kilometers or satellites with a combined weight of 4 tons into low-Earth orbit.

A notable achievement for the Long March 2D was its 76th flight in June, where it set a national record by launching 41 satellites in a single mission.

China's journey in space exploration began with the launch of the Long March 1 in April 1970, which placed the Dongfanghong 1 satellite into orbit, marking China as the fifth country capable of independently reaching Earth's orbit. The Long March family's growth has been rapid, with the first 100 launches taking 37 years, and the most recent 100 being completed in just two years.

Currently, China has over 20 types of Long March rockets, with 16 in active service. Zhang Zhi, a senior rocket designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, mentioned that the country is developing the next-generation crew-carrying rocket, the Long March 10, slated for its inaugural flight around 2027. This new model will play a crucial role in launching China's new-generation manned spacecraft and lunar landing modules.

Beyond the Long March family, China also has multiple types of carrier rockets developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp and several private enterprises, contributing to a total of 564 launches by Chinese carrier rockets.

The satellites launched in Sunday's mission, part of the Yaogan 39 series, were manufactured by the Shanghai academy and the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing, another CASC subsidiary. Remote-sensing satellites like the Yaogan series are crucial for tasks like land and sea observation, weather monitoring, and are extensively used by governments, public service sectors, and businesses. To date, China has deployed over 300 civilian remote-sensing satellites, with the Yaogan family being the largest in the country.

Based on a Xinhua News Agency article

Related Links
China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 05, 2023
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