China to Continue Launching Satellites, Rockets as Part of 5-Year Program

After launching 19 rockets with satellite payloads last year, China plans to launch 30 satellites through 21 rockets this year, as part of their space mission to complete their target of “100 rockets, 100 satellites” before 2015, as reported by Xinhua news agency last week. Deputy General Manager of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) Zhang Jianheng that the agency will complete about 20 launch missions each year on average.

The Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket loaded with Tiangong-1 unmanned space lab module blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, on the edge of the Gobi Desert, Thursday, Sept. 29, 2011. China plans to launch an average of 20 satellites per year through 2015 as part of its 100 rockets, 100 satellites program. (AP Photo)

All the rockets launched are Long March, designed and developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology that gained sufficient business after the US ban on satellite components and full satellites by its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) went into effect in 1999. Prior to that, China had purchased more than US$1 billion US-built satellites in almost a decade says Lei Fanpei, CASC Vice President.

China maintains its relations with several space agencies in Europe, Brazil, France, Russia and other countries and regions. China also has developed a telecommunications satellite product line that has been bundled with a Chinese Long March vehicle to export to almost a half-dozen countries. But more than just the satellite itself, domestic demand for telecommunications, navigation, earth observation and science satellites, and manned space programs have given the Long March vehicle a tremendous opportunity for earning a record of reliability, sustainability as well as profitability.

CASC is a state-owned group established three years ago as part of China’s government reformation drive, after being spun off from being a division of the former China Aerospace Corporation. It has several subordinate entities which design, develop and manufacture a range of space and defense products: spacecraft, launch vehicles, tactical missile systems, ground equipment and consumer products such as chemicals, communication and transportation equipment, medical care products, environmental equipment and even computers.

CASC currently has a market capitalization of US$ 1.1 billion and the company employs 110,000, and is known as the world’s most advanced organizations in the development and deployment of launching multiple satellites through a single rocket.

As per Chan, China has broken another record by becoming the world’s second biggest country in launch numbers after Russia with 36 launches. All the rockets will be launched from four launch centers: Jiuquan, Taiyuan, Wenchang and Xichang.