103rd successful rocket launch breaks record
The Long March carrier rocket family, China's backbone launch vehicle fleet, has set a new record for successful consecutive launches after a Long March 2D launch over the weekend, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country's leading space contractor.
The rocket blasted off at 1:37 am Saturday from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province and later placed a series of Yaogan 35-04 satellites, the fourth group of spacecraft in the Yaogan 35 remote-sensing network, into preset orbits, the State-owned company revealed in a news release.
Remote sensing is the process of detecting and monitoring the physical characteristics of an area by measuring its reflected and emitted radiation at a distance, typically from an aircraft or a satellite.
The release said that the satellites are tasked with scientific experiments, surveying land resources, forecasting agricultural yields and helping in disaster prevention and relief.
Since May 5, 2020, the Long March rocket series has achieved 103 consecutive successful launches in just 27 months, transporting 200 spacecraft into orbit, including space station modules, a lunar probe, a Mars probe and manned spaceships, the space conglomerate noted.
The previous record for consecutive Long March launch successes was 102, set between 1996 and 2011.
Long March 2D, designed and built by the company's Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, is propelled by liquid propellants and has a liftoff thrust of 300 metric tons. It is capable of sending spacecraft with a combined weight of 1.2 tons into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700 kilometers.
The last time the model was used was in late July, when it was tasked with placing the third group of Yaogan 35 satellites in orbit.
China launched the first and second groups of Yaogan 35 satellites in November 2021 and June this year.
Saturday's launch was the 433rd flight of the Long March rocket fleet.
China has carried out 28 space launch missions so far this year and plans to conduct some 60 launches in all.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp is developing a next-generation manned rocket and a super-heavy launch vehicle, which it plans to use to send crewed missions to the moon and realize future expeditions to Mars, Jupiter and asteroids, the company said.
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