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China launches powerful Jielong-3 rocket, paves way for more commercial missions

2024.02.03 03:11


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People stroll previous sounding rockets displayed on the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, or Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China September 29, 2021. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

BEIJING (Reuters) – A small however powerful Chinese rocket able to sending payloads at aggressive prices delivered 9 satellites into orbit on Saturday, Chinese state media reported, in what’s gearing as much as be one other busy 12 months for Chinese commercial launches.

The Jielong-3, or Smart Dragon-3, blasted off from a floating barge off the coast of Yangjiang in southern Guangdong province. It was the third launch of the rocket, developed by China Rocket Co, a commercial offshoot of a state-owned launch car producer, since December 2022.

President Xi Jinping has known as for the growth of strategic industries together with the commercial house sector, deemed key to constructing constellations of satellites for communications, distant sensing and navigation.

Also on Saturday, Chinese automaker Geely Holding Group launched 11 satellites to spice up its capability to offer more correct navigation for autonomous autos.

Critical to the development of commercial satellite tv for pc networks is China’s means to open more launch home windows, develop rocket sorts to accommodate completely different payload sizes, decrease launch prices, and enhance the variety of launch websites similar to constructing more spaceports and utilizing sea launch vessels.

Jielong-3 can carry a 1,500 kg (3,300 kilos) payload right into a 500-km sun-synchronous orbit. China Rocket Co has beforehand mentioned the rocket may carry over 20 satellites at a launch value of below $10,000 per kg – a globally aggressive fee for small-lift rockets.

The value is much like the launches of different Chinese small-lift rockets together with the Long March 11, however their payload sizes are considerably smaller.

Jielong-3 is similar to the powerful Lijian-1, which first flew in 2022.

Developed by CAS Space, a Guangzhou-headquartered commercial spinoff of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lijian-1 may also ship a 1,500 kg payload to a 500-km sun-synchronous orbit.

Other commercial firms within the Chinese car launch sector consists of Galactic Energy, whose Ceres-1 rocket made its debut flight in November 2020.

Ceres-1 is able to delivering a 300 kg payload to a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit.

Beijing-based Galactic Energy made a minimum of seven Ceres-1 launches in 2023, up from 4 in 2020-2022.

Also within the fray is Landspace, whose launch of the Zhuque-2 in 2023 marked the world’s first profitable payload supply by a liquid oxygen-methane rocket and a breakthrough in China’s use of low-cost liquid propellants.

In the realm of bigger rockets, Orienspace in January launched Gravity-1 from a ship off the coast of jap Shandong province.

The rocket is able to sending a payload of as much as 6,500 kg into low-earth orbit, making it essentially the most powerful launch car developed by a personal Chinese enterprise.

A small-lift rocket carries payloads of as much as 2,000 kg, whereas medium ones ship as much as 20,000 kg and heavy rockets can simply carry in extra of 20,000 kg. SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy can elevate as much as 64,000 kg into orbit.

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