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In launching two more GPS-style satellites with its Long March 3B rocket, China today also did their first test of equipment to be used in a parachute system designed to recover the rocket’s first stage.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed the mission to be a success four hours later, following direct insertion of the Beidou-3 satellites into their intended medium Earth orbits (MEO).
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) which developed the Long March 3B rocket reported that data logging and active tracking equipment was placed aboard for tests to determine to altitude and timing for future parachute landings for boosters.
The trial phase of parachute booster landings is expected in 2019. Expended rocket boosters frequently land in or near populated areas downrange of Xichang.
It is about time. The article also included a short video showing the booster wreakage that landed near a town during a previous launch. For any nation to allow rocket stages crashing near habitable areas speaks poorly of that nation.
The leaders in the 2018 launch race:
6 Europe (Arianespace)
In the national rankings China leads the U.S. now 28 to 25. I must add that with every launch China is setting a new record for itself in its annual totals. Previously its highest total of launches in a year had been 20.