Chinese rocket Long March 8 breaks single launch record – Launches 22 Commercial Satellites at once

At 11:06 pm Beijing time, the Long March-8 Y2 carrier rocket carrying 22 satellites blasted off from Wenchang Space Launch Site in China’s southern province of Hainan on February 26. The satellites will provide commercial remote sensing information, monitor the marine environment and help prevent forest fires and mitigate disasters. This was the 409th launch of the Long March rocket series. The launches were China’s third and fourth orbital missions of 2022, and the first after a long hiatus for the Lunar New Year. The launch set a new Chinese record of most no. of satellites launched onboard a single rocket.

Brief description of the Long March 8

The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) has developed the Long March 8, an orbital launch vehicle capable of launching up to 5000 kg into a 700 km altitude Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). The rocket’s first stage and two boosters are based on the Long March 7, and its second stage is the current liquid hydrogen-burning third stage of the Long March 3A/3B/3C and 7A. The Long March 8 will be used to test vertical takeoff and vertical landing, with the side boosters remaining connected to the first stage. Saturday’s mission was a one-time event that took place over the sea from Hainan Island.

(More on the Long March series rockets here.)

(More on the Long March 5 here.)

Satellites and payloads involved in the launch

  • Changguang Satellite Technology, a remote sensing constellation operator located in Changchun, has launched ten additional Jilin-1 satellites for its Jilin-1 constellation of remote sensing satellites, each weighing roughly 43 kg.
  • Minospace, a small satellite manufacturer, built five satellites for the project. Minospace will operate two of these satellites: Taijing-3 (01) 240-kilogram optical and Taijing-4 (01) 250-kilogram synthetic aperture radar (SAR).
  • Minospace also built the Wenchang-1 (01) and (02) wide-field multispectral satellites, each weighing 62.5 kilos, for two more private remote sensing firms.
  • Shaanxi Silk Road Tiantu Satellite Technology’s Xidian-1 hyperspectral remote sensing satellite for the new Silk Road Tiantu constellation.
  • The Chaohu-1 satellite, the first of the projected Tianxian SAR constellation, was launched by Spacety, a Changsha-based commercial spacecraft manufacturer and constellation operator. The 325-kilogram satellite expands on the preceding Long March 8 flight’s Hisea-1 SAR satellite.
  • The 14-kilogram Thor Smart Satellite was carried by Spacety for the trip. The satellite includes three GRID gamma ray burst detectors and the Aurora-2 X-ray polarimeter, as well as a distributed software protocol test payload.
  • Shandong Institute of Aerospace Electronics Technology produced Tianqi-19 for Guodian Gaoke’s Tianqi low-Earth orbit narrow-band Internet of Things constellation.
  • Shenzhen Aerospace Dongfanghong Satellite, under the ownership of CASC, constructed the 60-kilogram Hainan-1 (01) and (02) satellites for Hainan Westar Remote Sensing Technology Application Service. For marine surveillance, the satellites carry imagers and automatic identification system (AIS) receivers.
  • ADA Space, situated in Chengdu, southwest China, built and operates Star Era-17 (Xingshidai-17), a 20-kilogram satellite with visible light and thermal infrared imagers as well as “AI payloads.”
  • Wuhan University built the Phospherus-1 22-kilogram optical satellite for hyperspectral imaging.

In 2021, China achieved a new domestic record of 55 launches, surpassing the previous record of 39 launches recorded in 2018 and 2020, and continuing this pattern, China wants to set new global launch records and also complete its space station this year.

(More about future of China’s space missions here.)

(More about the Chinese space station Tiangong here.)

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