China is going to send more than a record 60 spacecraft into orbit via over 40 launches this year, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) told a press conference on Jan.17.
The Chang’e-5 lunar probe, which is expected to bring moon samples back to Earth, as well as China’s first Mars probe are planned to be launched this year. In addition, three new types of carrier rockets, the Long March-5B, Long March-7A and Long March-8, will make their maiden flights in 2020.
As a new generation of carrier rocket, the Long March-5B has the largest carrying capacity to low-Earth orbit. It will carry the core capsule and experiment capsules of China’s space station.
“This year will continue to see intensive launches and major missions will be carried out one after another,” said Shang Zhi, director of the Space Department of the CASC at the press conference, on which a blue book on China’s space achievements and future missions was released.
Three missions will be finished this year, including the completion of the BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System, the third phase of lunar exploration and the network of Gaofen observation satellites.
In the first half of the year, two geostationary orbit BeiDou satellites will be sent into space and construction of the BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System will be completed.
The Long March-5B h will mark the beginning of China’s manned space station mission, and the Long March 7A, which represents the new generation of China’s medium-sized high-orbit rocket, is an important step of the strategic layout of high-orbit satellite launch.
The Long March-8 rocket will increase China’s lift capacity for launches to sun-synchronous orbits and become the major player in the field of space launch and the commercial launch market.
The Long March-5 rockets will be launched three times in 2020, carrying a new generation of manned spacecraft, a Mars probe and a Chang’e-5 probe into space each time, according to Shang.
The CASC will send a number of satellites for China’s civil space infrastructure system, such as the Haiyang (Ocean) satellites and the Ziyuan (Resources) III satellites, to satisfy the need for national economic construction and technological development.
It will plan a series of launches, including APStar 6D, Jilin-1, and Qilu-1 satellites, as well as commercial launches of Jielong-1, Long March-6, and Long March-11 carrier rockets, to meet the application and launch requirements of commercial satellites at home and abroad.
According to the blue book, 102 launches were carried out globally last year, the second highest since 1991, and a record 492 spacecraft were launched. Among them, China completed a total of 34 space launches, ranking first in the world.