China has massive plans for the year 2017 from the space perspective with reports indicating that the country intends to conduct some 30 space launch missions this year.
This is a record breaking number considering that China has never conducted so many space experiments in one year, ever. According to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, Long March-5 and Long March-7 rockets would be used to carry out most of the space missions.
Long March-5 is China’s largest carrier rocket. The successful test launch of the vehicle in November in Hainan would pave the way for space station construction, analysts said. Wang Yu, general director of the Long March-5 program, said 2017 is a critical year for China’s new generation of carrier rockets and the Long March-5 rockets would carry Chang’e-5 probe to space.
The probe would land on the moon, collect samples and return to Earth. On the other hand, Long March-7, the more powerful version of Long March-2, would send China’s first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 into the space in the first half of 2017, according to Wang Zhaoyao, director of China Manned Space Engineering Office.
Tianzhou-1 was expected to dock with Tiangong-2 space lab and conduct experiments on propellant supplement, People’s Daily reported.
China conducted 22 launch missions in 2016 and 19 in 2015. The country successfully tested its Long March-7 rocket in June 2016, and has gradually shifted to new generation rockets that reduce the use of toxic rocket fuels.