Nation soars ahead with space missions

By ZHAO LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-13 08:18


・ Jan 3, last year: The Chang'e 4 robotic probe lands on the far side of the moon after a 26-day journey from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. The landmark mission carries out close observation work.

・ March 10: A Long March 3B carrier rocket lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center and places a communications satellite into geostationary orbit, marking the 300th launch in the Long March family.

・ May 17: LandSpace, a private rocket maker in Beijing, carries out the first test run of its TQ 12 methane rocket engine in Huzhou, Zhejiang province. The engine is the third of its kind in the world, following SpaceX's Raptor and Blue Origin's BE-4.

・ June 5: A Long March 11 solid-propellant rocket lifts off from a mobile platform in the Yellow Sea, sending seven satellites into orbit and realizing the nation's first seaborne space launch.

・ July 19: The Tiangong II space lab makes a controlled return to the Earth's atmosphere after 1,036 days in space. Most of the spacecraft burns up during re-entry, while a small amount of debris falls in a designated secure area in the Pacific Ocean.

・ July 25: A SQX 1 solid fuel carrier rocket, developed by i-Space, a startup in Beijing, blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, ferrying two satellites and several experimental payloads into space. It is the first orbital mission achieved by the domestic private space industry.

・ Aug 17: Smart Dragon 1, the nation's newest carrier rocket, makes its maiden flight from the Jiuquan center, complementing the home-produced Long March, Kuaizhou and SQX carrier rockets.

・ Nov 14: A key experiment is carried out in Hebei province for China's forthcoming Mars mission, watched by dozens of foreign diplomats and journalists. The experiment verifies the design and capability of the landing vehicle for the robotic Mars probe.

・ Dec 16: Launches of the 56th and 57th satellites complete the core space-based network of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System.

・ Dec 27: The third launch is staged of the country's biggest rocket-the Long March 5-at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, placing the Shijian 20, the largest, heaviest and most advanced domestic satellite, into orbit.

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