China launched more rockets into orbit in 2018 than any other country
The Long March 5 launch vehicle on the launch pad
2018 was the first year that China launched more rockets into spacethan any other country. At the moment, the number of launches made by China is 35, while the closest competitor, the United States, has sent 30 rockets into space.
On December 7, another rocket sent an important cargo into space - the moon rover Chang'e 4. In January, he will try to land on the opposite side of the moon. If everything works out, then China will set another record - so far no country has yet sent rovers to the other side of the natural satellite of the Earth.
And in China, both the state space program and the private one are developing simultaneously. In September 2018, a commercial company iSpace launched three nanosatellites into space. It was a test launch of the launch vehicle, the satellites do not perform any technical tasks. Another Chinese company, LinkSpace, plans to test its rocket in 2020.
In addition to these companies, Landspace, OneSpace and ExPace are successfully operating in China. There are other less well known companies. Many of them are a legacy of past years, research institutes that grew up in companies, which, however, are under state control. The largest aerospace organization in China, Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), is as big as Boeing, with 140,000 employees. Another organization, China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), developed Long March 5, the first Chinese heavy launch vehicle. Now CALT specialists are working on the creation of a super-heavy launch vehicle that should be ready within a few years.
While the Russian and American space programs suffer from some budget uncertainties, China is developing its own industry on all fronts: the development of satellites and the formation of networks of them, controlled space flights, the creation of robotic spacecraft to study the planets, their satellites and deep space. And now all these areas can be realized thanks to the Chinese launch vehicles, which are becoming more and more perfect.
Perhaps it is China that will go to Mars first, since the Chinese are now developing a super-heavy launch vehicle that will be suitable for delivering people and goods to the Red Planet.
As for Long March 5, the first rocket launch in 2016, in November, was successful. Unfortunately, after making a number of improvements in the design, the second flight was unsuccessful. It lasted six minutes, after which one of the engine elements refused and the rocket fell into the sea.
But the Chinese understand that this is only one failure, so they do not stop working on the rocket. In January of next year, they are going to launch Long March 5 again, and already with a cargo on board - this is a very complex communication satellite, which is planned to be delivered to a geostationary orbit. Then the Chinese are going to launch Long March 5 again - this time in order to send a rocket to the moon and back. If successful, this will be the first successful return flight to the Earth satellite (with samples of lunar rocks) from the time of "Moon 24", the Soviet apparatus, which delivered 170 grams of samples of lunar rocks to Earth.
Further Long March 5 will be used to launch elements of an orbital habitable station into Earth’s orbit. And not international, but purely Chinese. Its dimensions will be only one-fifth of the ISS, but for the Chinese it is not a problem - their station will not have different modules belonging to different countries, and therefore the size may be smaller.
Even China is developing a space telescope, the resolution of which will be approximately equal to Hubble, but in the field of vision there will be 300 times more. The system will be placed in orbit in the vicinity of the orbital station, so that the taikonauts will be able to quickly adjust the operation of the telescope if something suddenly happens.
Well, if China succeeds in developing Long March 9, a super-heavy launch vehicle, the country will become a leader in the aerospace industry. The first flight of this rocket is scheduled for 2028, it will be able to put into orbit about 140 tons of payload. This is five times more than that of Long March 5. By its capabilities, the rocket will be close to the most powerful carrier rocket ever built by man - Saturn V. The Chinese rocket will be able to send a man to the Moon without any problems.