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China’s Long March 4C rocket launches Earth observation satellite

China today completed its 50th launch in 2021, successfully launching an Earth observation satellite into orbit using its Long March 4C rocket.

It also launched a cubesat built by students.

Not only does 50 launches smash its previous yearly launch record, set last year at 35, but it exceeds by 20% the 40 launches China had predicted at the start of the year it would complete in 2021.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

50 China
31 SpaceX
22 Russia
7 Europe (Arianespace)

China leads the U.S. 50 to 48 in the national rankings. This was the 131st launch in 2021, the second highest total in a single year since the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • Joe

    China is not going to stop until they take the lead in every scientific and engineering discipline. The country has a plan and a unified party. They do atrocious things to their own people and the restrictions on freedom are appalling. They are getting results and that should worry any democratic country.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Ambition != accomplishment. The erstwhile USSR had a lot of big plans too – never more so than in the decade preceding its fall. The economic and particularly, the demographic conditions that enabled the PRC’s rise over the past four decades are gone. In a decade or so the PRC will join the late USSR in the dustbin of history.

  • mpthompson

    China does indeed have a lot of things going against it these days. However, the same could be said of the USA, but for a host of different reasons. There is no reason both can’t decline significantly in world power and stature over the coming decades.

  • Steve Richter

    The increased cadence of launches, is it leading to development of new capabilities? Especially in propulsion. Reusability of the first stage is relatively new and excellent. But reusing the 2nd stage is just not going to happen? And other than using a large tank of liquified gas., are there any serious plans to power a craft using another fuel? Maybe, a solid fuel that a craft could store a lot of.

  • Jeff Wright

    To Mr. Eagleson. They were supposed to have collapsed already..

    The Chinese are very much more disciplined than their Russian counterparts. There was an entertainment venue who you saw some youths doing Western style dance. You should have seen the scowls on the faces of the audience.

    Culturally, in many respects they are conservative.

    The Japanese have a saying: “the nail that stands out will be hammered down.”

    And China views the Japanese as unruly!

    Long before Marx…orderliness was valued.

    In the East, stability is more important than justice.

    Know your role.

    Keep your lane.

    That sober-mindedness makes them even tougher than Russians.

  • mpthompson

    In the East, stability is more important than justice.
    Know your role.
    Keep your lane.
    That sober-mindedness makes them even tougher than Russians.

    A controlled and orderly society isn’t necessarily a prosperous society. Particularly if orderliness is enforced from above to preserve the social hierarchy. The result can be a rigid, inflexible society that is more fragile than would otherwise be apparent. Such rigidness can mask deep social ills which would be better addressed early on rather than postponed until the stability of the entire system is threatened.

    For all the problems the US has, our society so far has demonstrated remarkable robustness and durability in the face of enormous historical and societal changes. During challenging times, “Know your role; Keep your lane” has not been a characteristic of the underlying strength. Rather, American culture, with its emphasis on individualism, is strong for the same reasons plywood is strong — many different layers going in different directions where if one layer proves weak to the forces applied, other layers with the grain running in a different direction can take up the load.

  • Jeff Wright

    In the 50’s we were individualistic-but some today are ungovernable. After Mao’s excesses, people there call what they have now freedom. They reward the bright-and they do well in academics.
    Sowell didn’t think culture matters. P. J. O’ Rourke knew better..
    The reason China persists is that they don’t do immediate gratification-and they believe in WORK-unlike our youth culture. There-it is respect your elders.

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