Long March 5
China is clear to embark on ambitious exploration and space station missions following a successful return-to-flight Friday of the Long March 5.
China is aiming to launch its complex Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission in late 2020, following launch vehicle-related delays.
China is set to attempt a return-to-flight of its largest rocket at the end of the year, with success required for the country to proceed with its major space ambitions.
The main contractor for the Chinese space program is planning more than 30 launches in 2019, with major missions including the crucial return-to-flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket in July.
The next-generation crewed spacecraft will be the payload for the first flight of the Long March 5B launch vehicle, a variant of the Long March 5 and designed for lofting large modules of the planned Chinese Space Station.
China’s plan to launch and construct a space station could be hit by a test flight delay of the launcher designed to send the modules into orbit.
China launched an Earth observation satellite early on Tuesday, seeing the country equaling its record for launches in a calendar year with 22.
China has disclosed the cause of the failure of the Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket last July, revealing that a turbopump exhaust issue prevented the rocket reaching orbit.
The involvement of dozens of space sector officials in the high-profile 18-day long rubber-stamp political gathering also provided a rare opportunity for updates on various aspects of China’s space program and an outline of its reliably nebulous scheduling.
Long March 5's return to flight will carry an experimental, 300 Gbps telecommunications satellite named Shijian-20 based on a new, large DFH-5 satellite platform.