​China's aerospace development ushers into 'Super 2018'

By Zhang Liying
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, January 22, 2018
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China launches SuperView-1 03/04, a pair of 0.5-meter high-resolution remote sensing satellites, from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China's Shanxi Province, Jan. 9, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

The beginning of 2018 witnessed four successful steps in China's aerospace development: on Jan. 9, SuperView-1 03/04, a pair of 0.5-meter high-resolution remote sensing satellites, was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center; on Jan. 12, the twin BeiDou-3 navigation satellites were sent into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center; on Jan.13, a land resources exploration satellite was launched into a preset orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center; on Jan.19, two high-resolution optical remote sensing satellites, Jilin-1 Video 07 and 08, were launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The successive completion of missions, which has received world attention, is an indication that 2018 will be a year of extraordinary significance for China's aerospace development. More than 40 space launches are expected to take place throughout the year, which will break the country's annual launch record set in 2016 and possibly place China at the top of the world rankings.

Lunar exploration program to make impressive progress

Launching Chang'e-4, a key step in China's lunar exploration program, is among the most important and difficult missions this year. The mission aims to collect more information about the geology and resources of the Moon.

The lunar probe is scheduled to be blasted into space at the end of the year and conduct a soft landing on the South Pole–Aitken basin, an impact crater on the far side of the Moon. If completed successfully, it will be the first lunar probe to achieve a soft landing on the far side of the Moon.

Upsurge in BeiDou satellite launches this year

China launched its first two BeiDou-3 satellites in November 2017, marking the expansion of its self-developed BeiDou Navigation Satellite System into a global network.

18 BeiDou-3 satellites are planned to be launched around the end of 2018 to expand BeiDou's services to the countries along the Belt and Road, meaning that another 14 satellites will be sent into space by the rest of the year.

Specialist satellites to play their roles

The Chinese-French Oceanography Satellite (CFOSAT), currently in its final integration phase, is planned to be launched on a Long March rocket in the second half of 2018. The CFOSAT mission will simultaneously study waves and wind over the ocean's surface to improve the two countries' capabilities in conducting maritime surveys and ensuring navigation safety.

Zhangheng-1, China's first self-developed electromagnetic monitoring test satellite and first space-based platform for earthquake monitoring, will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in February.

Gaofen-6 will be launched this year, marking fresh progress in the Gaofen project, which was initiated in 2013 for high-resolution observation of China and its surrounding areas.

Long March-5 to return to launch site

After half a year of repairs, the Long March-5, China's most powerful carrier rocket, is ready to carry out a new mission at the end of 2018. The rocket's maiden flight successfully took place in November 2016, but its second launch in July 2017 experienced complications.

Commercial aerospace to develop rapidly

2018 will be a landmark year for China's commercial aerospace development: Deqing-1, named after a county, is China's first commercial remote sensing satellite, and is planned to be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in January. The remote sensing data collected by the satellite will provide information for geomatics, transport, agriculture, water conservancy and environmental protection.

A small smart carrier rocket developed by One Space, a private company based in Beijing, will make its maiden flight in the first half of 2018, marking a milestone in China's private aerospace development.

Kuaizhou-11, a low-cost solid-fuel carrier rocket, is scheduled for its maiden launch in the first half of 2018, according to Zhang Di, an official with the rocket's developer and producer China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC). The rocket will send six satellites into space in its first mission.

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