China’s Long March rockets complete 300 launches

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The ‘ChinaSat 6C’ satellite is launched by a Long March-3B carrier rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province yesterday. Xinhua

XICHANG (Xinhua) – With a Long March-3B rocket putting a new communication satellite into orbit yesterday, China’s Long March carrier rocket series completed 300 launches, having sent more than 500 spacecraft into space since 1970.

“This is a milestone for China’s space industry development,” said Wu Yansheng, board chairman of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

The Long March carrier rocket series, developed by CASC, is responsible for about 96.4 percent of all the launch missions in China.

It took 37 years for the Long March rockets to complete the first 100 launches, 7.5 years to complete the second 100 launches, and only about four years to accomplish the final 100, with the average number of launches per year increasing from 2.7 to 13.3 and then to 23.5.

“Intensive launches have become normal in China, indicating the rapid development of the space industry, the progress of science and technology and the enhancement of national strength,” said Shang Zhi, director of the Space Department of the CASC.

China joined the space club on April 24, 1970, when the Long March-1 carrier rocket launched the country’s first satellite, Dongfanghong-1, into orbit. At that time, the carrying capacity of the Long March rocket was only 300 kg.

On November 3, 2016, China’s current largest carrier rocket, the Long March-5, made its maiden flight, with its carrying capacity reaching 25 tonnes for low-Earth orbit and 14 tonnes for geosynchronous orbit.

The success rate of the 300 launches of the Long March rockets stood at 96 percent, according to CASC.

During the third 100 launches, the Long March rockets sent a total of 225 spacecraft, weighing about 240 tonnes, into space, with a success rate of 97 percent, reaching a high level in the world, said Shang.

From October 1996 to August 2011, the Long March rockets set a world record for 15 years of successful consecutive launches.

In 2018, the Long March rockets completed 37 consecutive successful launches, ranking a global first for the highest number of successful launches.

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