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Space contractors release China's annual launch plan

By ZHAO LEI | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-01-05 07:08
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China plans to carry out around 60 launch missions this year, according to the country's major space contractors.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the nation's leading space contractor, has more than 50 launch missions planned in 2023, said its annual work report.

The report, presented by Zhang Zhongyang, general manager of the State-owned conglomerate, at the company's annual research and production work conference in Beijing on Tuesday, said the planned spaceflights include manned and robotic missions to the newly assembled Tiangong space station and the maiden flight of the Long March 6C carrier rocket.

Most of the launches will be made by the company's Long March carrier rocket family, and the rest will be conducted by the Smart Dragon series.

In addition to the rocket launches, the company will also continue with the research and development of the Tianwen 2 asteroid probe and the Chang'e 7 lunar probe, according to the report.

The Tianwen 2 mission is scheduled for launch around 2025 to deploy a probe on an asteroid to collect and bring back soil samples.

The Chang'e 7 mission will land a sophisticated multipart spacecraft on the moon's South Pole around 2026 to find traces of water, investigate the environment and the weather there, and survey its landform.

Another State-owned space enterprise, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, plans 10 spaceflights using its Kuaizhou 1A and Kuaizhou 11 solid-propellant rockets. If the plan becomes a reality, 2023 will become the busiest year for the Kuaizhou family, company sources said.

Last year, China conducted 64 rocket liftoffs, a new national record.

Of the 64 liftoffs, 53 were made by Long March-series rockets, the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology carried out 30 and the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology 23. Both are subsidiaries of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The Kuaizhou fleet carried out five flights, including the first successful mission of the Kuaizhou 11 model.

Beijing-based rocket company CAS Space, owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, performed the successful debut flight of its ZK 1A rocket in July. The model is now the country's largest and most powerful solid-propellant rocket.

Three private Chinese rocket companies also made four launches with their own models last year, but two of them failed due to technical malfunctions.

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