Three Chinese Astronauts Launch for First Occupation of New Space Station

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three Chinese astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning local time for a three-month mission to the nation’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

The mission is commanded by Nie Haisheng, 56, who has logged more than 19 days in space on two previous flights. Nie, who is a major general in the People’s Liberation Army Air Force, was joined by Liu Boming, 54, who will be flying to space for the second time, and rookie astronaut Tang Hongbo, 45.

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China to Launch Crew to First Permanent Space Station on Thursday

Shenzhou-12 crew members Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming. (Credit: CNSA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Three astronauts will launch on Thursday morning local time aboard the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft for a three-month long mission to China’s first permanent space station. It will be the longest human space mission in Chinese history, and the country’s first crewed fight in nearly five years.

Launch of the crew aboard a Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is scheduled for June 17 at 0122 UTC (June 16 at 9:22 p.m. EDT).

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China Launches Oceanography Satellite

Long March 4B launches the Haiyang 2D oceanography satellite.

JIUQUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, China (CNSA PR) — At 12:03 on May 19, China used the Long March 4B carrier rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to successfully launch the Haiyang 2D satellite. The satellite successfully entered the scheduled orbit, and the mission was a complete success. 

Haiyang 2D is the third operational satellite of the National Space Infrastructure Ocean Power Satellite series. It will form my country’s Ocean Power Environment Satellite Constellation with Haiyang 2B and Haiyang 2C, and is mainly used to observe sea surface wind fields. Information such as sea surface height, effective wave height, gravity field and ocean circulation will provide strong support for sea condition forecasting, storm warning, precipitation forecasting, surface analysis and global climate change research.

The National Space Administration is responsible for the organization and implementation of the Haiyang 2D satellite project; the China Academy of Space Technology and Shanghai Aerospace Technology Research Institute under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation are responsible for the development of satellite systems and launch vehicle systems; the China Satellite Launch, Measurement and Control System Department is responsible for The launch site and measurement and control system are organized and implemented; the Ministry of Natural Resources is the user department, and the National Satellite Ocean Application Center is responsible for the construction of ground systems and application systems.

This mission is the 370th launch of the Long March series of carrier rockets.

Long March 4C Launches Yaogan-34 Remote Sensing Satellite

Long March 4C launches Yaogan-34 satellite on April 30, 2021.

On Friday, a Chinese Long March 4C booster launched the Yaogan-34 remote sensing satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

Data from Yaogan-34 will be used for land surveys, land ownership confirmation, urban planning, crop yield estimates, road network design, and disaster prevention and mitigation.

Yaogan-34 was developed by the Eighth Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

This launch was the 368th of the Long March series of rockets.

Quarterly Launch Report: US in the Lead Thanks to SpaceX

A Falcon 9 lifts off with 60 Starlink satellites on March 11, 2021. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There were 27 orbital launch attempts with 26 successes and one failure during the first quarter of 2021. The United States accounted for nearly half the total with 13 launches behind nine flights by SpaceX.

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Long March 4C Launches Gaofen 12-02 Earth Observation Satellite

Long March 4C launches the Gaofen 12-02 satellite.

On Wednesday morning, the Long March 4C carrier rocket launched the Gaofen 12-02 Earth observation satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Gaofen 12-02 will be primarily used for land census, urban planning, land rights confirmation, road network design, crop yield estimation, and disaster prevention and mitigation.

Long March 4C was developed by the Eighth Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology Group. For multi-satellite launch missions, the booster can carry payloads weighing up to 3 metric tons to a 700-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit.

This flight 73rd launch of the Long March 4C rocket, and the 364th launch of the Long March series.

China Launches 3 Yaogan-31 Military Reconnaissance Satellites

Long March 4C lifts off with three Yaogan-31 reconnaissance satellites. (Credit: CASC)

JIUQUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, China (CASC PR) — On February 24 at 10:22 a.m., the Long March 4C carrier rocket was ignited and launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, and successfully sent three Yaogan-31 satellites into the scheduled orbit. The mission was a complete success.

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Chinese iSpace Hyperbola-1 Launch Fails

Planned booster families (Credit: i-space)

A Beijing Interstellar Glory (iSpace) Hyperbola-1 rocket failed after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Monday, marking a setback for the nominally private small-satellite launch provider.

“The rocket flew abnormally and the launch mission failed. The specific reasons are being further analyzed and investigated,” the company said in a statement. “Interstellar Glory set up a fault investigation committee and a fault review committee immediately to investigate and review the cause of the fault to reset the launch mission.”

Lost in the accident was a 6U CubeSat named Ark-2 (Fangzhou-2) built by the Beijing Space Ark Space Technology Co. The spacecraft was designed to test technologies to be used in Space Ark’s family of small- and medium-size recoverable satellites.

Hyperbola-1 is a four-stage, solid-fuel satellite launcher believed to be based on Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles. The booster can loft 300 kg into low Earth orbit at a reported cost of $5 million.

The failure came 18 months after iSpace became the first nominally private company to launch satellites into orbit. A Hyperbola-1 launched two satellites on July 25, 2019.

China Completes Record Launch Year With Successful Flight

Long March 4C lifts off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 27, 2020.

China completed a busy year that saw the nation tie its own record for launch attempts with the successful orbiting of a remote sensing satellite and a secondary nanosat on Sunday.

A Long March 4C rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 11:44 p.m.. local time carrying the Yaogan Weixing-33 (R) spacecraft. The spacecraft will be “mainly used for scientific experiment research, marine and land resource surveys and other tasks,” the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said.

Yaogan Weixing-33 (R) is the replacement for a similarly named remote sensing satellite that was lost due to the failure of a Long March 4C booster in May 2019.

A scientific research satellite named Weina Jishu Shiyan was also placed into orbit on Sunday as a secondary payload.

The successful flight was the last of 39 launch attempts for 2020 and the final one in the nation’s 13th Five-Year Plan, CNSA said. China finished the year with 35 successes and four failures.

The 39 launch attempts tied the national record China set in 2018. The nation finished that year with a record of 38 successes and one failure.

China finished second in launch attempts behind the United States in 2020, which completed the year with 40 successes and four failures.

Sunday’s mission was the 69th launch of the Long March 4C booster and the 357th launch of the Long March family of rockets.

Reusable Spacecraft Lands in China After 2 Day Flight

China’s new reusable spacecraft landed on Sunday after a two-day test flight in Earth orbit, the official Xinhua news agency announced.

“The success indicated that China has achieved key breakthroughs in researching the spacecraft’s reusable technologies. It will provide more convenient and cheaper transport for the peaceful use of space in the future,” Xinhua said.

The spacecraft landed back at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center where it was launched aboard a Long March 2F booster on Friday.

China has not released any details about the spacecraft. It is possible the vehicle is similar to the U.S. military’s uncrewed X-37 space plane, which is launched aboard a rocket and glides to a landing on a runway.

China Launches Reusable Experimental Spacecraft

A Chinese rocket launched a “reusable experimental spacecraft” into Earth orbit on Friday.

The Long March 2F booster lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

China has released no details about the vehicle. However, it could be similar to the U.S. military’s X-37B reusable space plane.

“After a period of in-orbit operation, the spacecraft will return to the scheduled landing site in China. It will test reusable technologies during its flight, providing technological support for the peaceful use of space,” the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Long March 2F rocket has been used to launch Shenzhou crewed spacecraft and two Tiangong space stations. This was the 14th launch of the booster.

China Launches Remote Sensing Satellite

China launched the Gaofen 9-04 remote sensing satellite on Thursday in the 50th flight of the Long March 2D booster.

The launch of the optical observation satellite was conducted from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

A secondary satellite, Q-SAT, was also launched. The spacecraft, which was developed by Tsinghua University in Beijing, will gather atmospheric density and gravity data.

Long March 2D first launched in August 1992. The booster has a record of 49 successes and one partial failure.

Chinese Launch Vehicle Fails on Maiden Flight

Kuaizhou 11 lifts off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

China’s Kauizhou 11 booster failed on its maiden flight on Friday, destroying two satellites and dealing a setback to the nation’s commercial launch industry.

The three-stage, solid-fuel rocket apparently failed during the latter stages of flight after lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Chinese media said an investigation is under way.

Destroyed in the launch failure were the Jilin-1 video satellite and the CentiSpace-1-S2 navigation spacecraft.

Operated by Expace, the booster is a larger version of the Kauizhou 1A launcher. Kauizhou 11 is designed to launch payloads weighing 1,000 kg into sun synchronous orbit.

Expace is a commercial spin-off from the stage-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

China has launched 19 times this year, with 16 successes and three failures. In March, the Long March 7A booster was destroyed during its maiden flight. A Long March 3B failed in flight the following month.

China Launches Reconnaissance Satellite

Long March 2D lifts off from Jiuquan on July 5, 2020. (Credit: CASC)

China launched the classified Shiyan-6 (02) reconnaissance satellite on Sunday, marking the country’s second successful launch in two days.

A Long March 2D rocket lofted the spacecraft into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said the satellite will be “mainly used to carry out space environment detection and related technical tests.” Western experts believe the description is used for reconnaissance satellites.

The launch was 338th of the Long March series of launch vehicles.

The successful flight came on the heels of another Chinese launch on Friday. A Long March 4B rocket launched the latest Gaofen civilian Earth imaging satellite from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Northern China.