China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) plans to conduct at least 30 launches in 2019. The PRC is preparing a number of ambitious projects, including a new launch of its heavy rocket, as well as a launch from a naval platform – the first in the history of Chinese astronautics.
According to the plan, China will send 50 spacecraft into orbit in 2019. The most anticipated launch should be the flight of the Chang Zheng 11 rocket, which for the first time in the history of Chinese astronautics will start from a platform in the Yellow Sea.
The carrier is able to transport cargo weighing up to 350 kg to a sun-synchronous orbit (700 km) and up to 700 kg to a low earth orbit (200 km).
China plans to use Chang Zheng 11 to launch satellites, including under a contract with partner countries of the One Belt One Road program.
In July, a heavy-class Chang Zheng 5 rocket, which is planned to be involved in the construction of the space station, as well as in missions for the exploration of the Moon and Mars, will also go into space. A powerful installation 57 meters high flew only once – in 2016. The mission in 2017 ended in failure, so the PRC had to slow down its most ambitious projects, for which a powerful carrier is needed.
Engineers have already redesigned the engines to eliminate the possibility of a breakdown during the next launch. If the flight takes place, then at the end of 2019, Chang Zheng 5 will send an apparatus for collecting stones and regolith to the moon.
As reported by SpaceNews, part of the CASC plans, as usual, has not yet disclosed. According to the publication, China also plans to launch a new batch of vehicles that will form the constellation of navigation satellites for the Chinese GPS analogue.
In the first half of 2019, private traders are also activated. OneSpace and iSpace (not to be confused with Japanese Ispace) will conduct the first orbital launches. The OS-M rocket will fly into space at the end of March, and Landspace will try to launch the rocket in 2020 for the first time after a failed mission in October.
While China does not name the exact number of upcoming launches. However, last year the country managed to carry out 37 missions and for the first time surpass Russia and the United States in this indicator. For comparison, the American SpaceX – the champion of 2017 – conducted only 21 launches in 2018.
China completes development of its own GPS system
The country has successfully launched the last two satellites for the national navigation system BeiDou. The total number of devices in the BeiDou system reached 43, and the positioning error approached the GPS.
An ordinary user, using the navigator, hardly thinks about who owns the GPS. For many, this abbreviation has become a household name, denoting any navigation system. But for states, the issue of reducing dependence on American technology has always been relevant.
Russia has its own system – GLONASS. The European Union built Galileo for these needs. The formation of the constellation of satellites for its own system BeiDou China began in 2000 – and now it includes more than 40 satellites.
Over the past 18 years, China has increased its orbital constellation. The first subgroup was BDS-1 – largely experimental and consisting of only four vehicles. The last two launches completed the BDS-3 group – the most numerous. Each subsequent group increased the accuracy and performance of the system.
Engineers say that with the commissioning of the BDS-3, the error decreased to 2.5 – 5 meters. This accuracy offers GPS.
Now the main grouping of BDS has been formed, they report in China. In the near future, six more backup satellites will be put into orbit for backup, and in 2020, BeiDou will begin offering its services as a global positioning system.
After Brexit, the problem of not having your own GPS suddenly became very relevant for the UK. Being a part of the European Union, England enjoyed the Galileo system on general rights and even invested significant sums in it. But now politicians and the UK Space Agency are worried that the country could be left without high-precision navigation after the release of the EU, and decided to spend $118 million to develop a sovereign equivalent.