China is trying to establish its hegemony in space by frequently developing space technology. China’s first rocket designed for commercial use,Smart Dragon-1 rocket,which was carrying three satellites on August 17,2019 lifted off from the launch pad at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province.
China’s new plan is under development and that is the Smart Dragon-3 model or Jielong-3 is a solid fuel launch vehicle,
According to some sources it is going to make its first flight in September, and it gained its project approval on December 31,2020.
With the new maritime launch facilities the rocket is capable of launching from both the land or the sea,this facility is also important as it will reduce the pressure from China’s main spaceports that are already handling the preparation of other programs.Also,the risks of sea based launches are comparatively lower than that of launches from land as it is carried away from human establishments,thus the chances of any mishap especially loss to property or any life is really low.
Who is developing the Rockets?
Jiang Jie, a senior rocket scientist and a member at the China Academy of Sciences said “the country’s known rocket maker,the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology’s engineers are developing the Dragon-3 rocket which will be launched for the model’s first mission”.
Significance of Jielong-3 Rockets.
China has till now been able to liftoff only two ship based launch rockets from its Long March 11 solid propellant rocket,the first sea-based launch was carried out in June 2019, in the yellow sea using a Long March 11 carrier rocket,named Tarui,a huge semi-submersible barge(a long flat-bottomed boat), which set new standards on the grounds of safety, stability and reliability of launches at sea despite complicated marine environments .On the other hand the second seaborne launch took place in September 2020, also using the Long March-11.
Smart Dragon-3 or Jielong-3 is the second rocket developed by China that is capable of lift off both from land and sea.
The Smart Dragon-3 has a diameter of about 2.6 meters and a 3.35 meters nose cone is the largest and strongest in the Smart Dragon series and a lift off weight of about 140 metric tonnes.
It will be capable of carrying multiple satellites which will have a combined weight of 1.5 tonnes into the Sun’s Synchronous Orbit (SSO)* at an altitude of 500 kilometers.
Since the Smart Dragon-3 is capable of sending as much as 20 satellites in one go it would be able to cope up with the market needs of sending large scale commercial satellite constellations.
When and Where will the launch take place?
The assembly and testing will be carried out at Haiyang Port,in Haiyang,East China’s Shandong province which is popularly known as ‘Dongfang Space Port’, which is specially used for sea based launches.
CALT mentioned that it also hoped that the execution of a commercial launch service contract can be shortened to six months, greatly improving efficiency of rocket launch.
Also China’s first vessel to support satellite launches from sea is expected to be delivered in 2022.
Long Wei,deputy project manager for the rocket mentioned that the second in the Smart Dragon family to enter service, Smart Dragon 3 will be in demand to clients who wish to launch large quantities of satellites in a short interval of time to establish space-based commercial networks as soon as possible”.
According to the Chinese Academy of Launching Vehicle Technology,as the Smart Dragon-3 is competent with both land and sea launches, the Smart Dragon-3 can reduce the costs of payloads to $10000 per kilogram,further describing the market competitiveness.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology has arranged two to three launch missions by Smart Dragon 3 within this year.The scientists estimate that at least 5 launches will be made starting from 2023 in comparison to the rising demand.
On the other hand another similar space agency CAS or registered in December as the Beijing Zhongke Aerospace Exploration Technology Co.,ltd,is also developing solid fuel rockets.It wants to launch its rocket as soon as possible thus it has already conducted the ground tests for the four stages of ZK-1A in November 2021.
With the new age of modernised space explorations,government as well as private companies are trying to establish their hegemony in this arena,few of the companies that have already started are SpaceX,BlueOrigin and Roscosmos.
These attempts to make an efficient launching vehicle would help the Chinese Space Agencies to attract many countries and private companies to send their satellites and also to capture a big chunk of this market.
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Q1- WHAT IS SUN SYNCHRONOUS ORBIT?
Ans- Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) is a specific kind of polar orbit.In SSO the satellites traveling over the polar regions, are synchronous with the Sun. This means that they are always synchronous to the fixed position relative to the sun.