China’s Long March Carrier Completes 300 Launches

Long March 3B Rocket
The launch of Long March 3B Rocket, Xichang Satellite Center, China (Photo: AAxanderr/Wikimedia Commons)

China launched its Long March-3B rocket on Monday to place a new communication satellite into the orbit on Sunday. The launch completed the Long March carrier rockets' 300 launches that have sent not less than 500 spacecraft into space since their first space trip in 1970.

Wu Yansheng, board chairman of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), said that it is a milestone for China's space industry development. The Long March series developed by the CASC is responsible for launching more or less 96.4 percent of the all the launch missions of the country.

The first one hundred launches of the country were completed in 37 years. Its send hundred launches were completed in 7.5 years. The final 100 launches were accomplished in four years. China's average number of launches per year increased to from 2.7 to 13.3 and 23.5 in the final set. Shang Zhi, the director of the Space Department of the CASC, said that 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.

China started launching their rockets on April 24, 1970, when they launched the Long March-1 carrier rocket to bring the Dongfanghong-1, the first satellite of China, into the orbit. The Long March rocket can carry only 300 kg during that time.

Long March-5, the country's largest carrier rocket, made its maiden flight on November 3, 2016. The rocket's capacity reached 25 tonnes for low-Earth orbit and 14 tonnes for geosynchronous orbit. The CASC said that the success rate of the launches of the Long March rockets is at 96 percent. Shang said that the Long March rockets sent a total of 225 spacecraft with an average weight of 240 tonnes into space with a success rate of 97 percent during the third 100 launches. China reached the highest level in the world in terms of space flight.

The Long March rockets gained the world record for 15 years of successful launchers from October 1996 to August 2011. The rocket series completed 37 consecutive launches in 2018 as it ranks a global first for the highest number of successful launches. There have been 17 types of Long March rockets developed and used since 1970. It includes the implementation of a series of key space projects that includes manned space program, lunar exploration, BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and the Gaofen Earth observation.

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