China’s Long March 3B/E rocket launches communications satellite

China today successfully placed a commercial communications satellite into orbit using an upgraded version of its Long March 3B rocket, dubbed the Long March 3B/E.

The 3B/E includes a larger first stage using more powerful engines as well as upgraded strap-on boosters. No word if these upgrades included either grid fins or parachutes or any ability to control the crash of the stage or boosters. As the launch was from one of China’s interior spaceports, these stages crashed inside China.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

13 SpaceX
10 China
5 Russia
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 20 to 10 in the national rankings.