China’s long march into Earth’s orbit
BY wangxingwei from 21st Century
Published 2020-01-08
The Shijian 20 satellite prepares for liftoff on a Long March 5 carrier rocket at Wenchang Space Launch Center on Dec 27. CHINA DAILY

China’s biggest and most powerful carrier rocket, the Long March 5, kicked off its latest space mission on Dec 27, 2019 at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province.

The rocket, coded as Long March 5 Y3, carried the Shijian 20 technological experiment satellite. At more than eight tons, it is the heaviest and most advanced communications satellite yet built by China.

About 33 minutes later, the satellite entered its planned orbit, 36,000 kilometers above Earth.

The success of the flight will lay the foundation for a series of future Chinese space projects. These include exploring Mars, returning moon samples and constructing a space station, Wu Yanhua, deputy director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA), told Xinhua.

The Shijian 20 satellite will test the key technologies of the DFH 5 platform, China’s new-generation large satellite platform, and offer communication and broadcasting service, according to Xinhua.

The Long March 5 made its maiden flight on Nov 3, 2016 from Wenchang.The rocket is about 57 meters long, equivalent to the height of a 20-story building. The Long March 5 is much larger than China’s previous carrier rockets. It has a takeoff weight of about 870 tons and a thrust of more than 1,000 tons.

The carrying capacity of the Long March 5 rocket equals that of other large-scale rockets in the global industry. Wang Xiaojun, president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, told Xinhua this will greatly improve China’s ability to launch spacecraft and set up the future development of new-generation carrier rockets and heavy-lift launch vehicles.

The design team made efforts to decrease the weight of the rocket. For instance, the thickness of the rocket shell in some parts is only a few millimeters, according to Li Linsheng, a structural strength analysis designer.

“In 2020, we will use the Long March 5 to launch the Chang’e 5 probe to the moon and also send a rover toward Mars,” Wang Xiaojun said. “Rockets to fulfill these missions are in the testing phases.”

China will continue to be the world’s most frequent user of carrier rockets after gaining the title in 2018, with 33 successful launches in 2019.

2020 is also expected to be a busy one for the nation’s space launch industry. A host of new types of rockets, such as the Long March 5B, Long March 8, Smart Dragon 2 and Kuaizhou 11, will make their debuts.

(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Luo Sitian)
Coded  编号
Satellite  卫星
Orbit  轨道
Samples  样本
Broadcasting  广播
Maiden  首次的
Thrust  推力
Carrying capacity  运载力
Spacecraft  宇宙飞船
Structural  结构的
Probe  探测器
Rover  太空车
Debuts  首秀