China’s Long March 4C rocket launches two satellites

Long March 4C launch

China today launched two experimental technology satellites, using its Long March 4C rocket from an interior spaceport.

The launch pictures, as captured on the right, show what appear to be panels falling off the rocket as it lifts off. Note how some of these falling panels are red, while the Chinese flag at the top of the rocket appears to be partly broken off in the later picture. The fairing and shell of the upper stage in the second picture also appear changed.

The Chinese state-run press claims the satellites reached orbit as planned, but these pictures suggest otherwise. If part of the fairing and outside of the upper stage fell off, there is a good chance the payload was damaged during max-q, the period soon after launch when rockets undergo the greatest stress in the Earth’s thicker atmosphere.

UPDATE from stringer Jay: Video of the launch. The panels continue to drop off for a considerable time.

Assuming this launch was a success, however, the 2022 launch race continues to heat up, with China vying to beat SpaceX after trailing the American company for most of the year.

58 China
56 SpaceX
21 Russia
9 Rocket Lab
8 ULA

The U.S. still leads China 80 to 58 in the national rankings, but trails the entire world combined 88 to 80.

China’s Long March 4C rocket launches military satellite

China today successfully used its Long March 4C rocket to place a military Earth observation satellite into orbit.

Launched from an interior spaceport, the rocket’s lower stages thus crashed uncontrolled in China.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

39 SpaceX
34 China
11 Russia
6 Rocket Lab
5 ULA

American private enterprise still leads China 54 to 34 in the national rankings, and the entire globe 54 to 52.

China and Rocket Lab complete successful launches

Two launches this morning herald the upcoming busy launch schedule for the last few days of June.

First China launched from its Jiuquan interior spaceport an Earth observation satellite using its Long March 4C rocket. As is usual with China, the first stage crashed on land, though no details have been provided.

Next, Rocket Lab used its Electron rocket to send NASA’s CAPSTONE cubesat lunar probe on its way to the Moon. More information here.

CAPSTONE is currently in low-Earth orbit, and it will take the spacecraft about four months to reach its targeted lunar orbit.

…CAPSTONE is attached to Rocket Lab’s Lunar Photon, an interplanetary third stage that will send CAPSTONE on its way to deep space. Shortly after launch, Lunar Photon separated from Electron’s second stage. Over the next six days, Photon’s engine will periodically ignite to accelerate it beyond low-Earth orbit, where Photon will release the CubeSat on a ballistic lunar transfer trajectory to the Moon. CAPSTONE will then use its own propulsion and the Sun’s gravity to navigate the rest of the way to the Moon. The gravity-driven track will dramatically reduce the amount of fuel the CubeSat needs to get to the Moon.

Once at the Moon, the spacecraft will enter a polar orbit varying from 1000 to 43,500 miles from the surface, with its prime mission to test operations in that lunar orbit.

Not only did NASA hire a private company, Rocket Lab, to launch it, the agency also hired a private company, Terran Orbital, to build it.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

26 SpaceX
21 China
8 Russia
4 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise still leads China 36 to 21 in the national rankings, and the entire world combined 36 to 34.

For the rest of June, the American companies SpaceX, Virgin Orbit, and ULA all have planned launches, as well as India. If all succeed, that would put the total launches in the first half of ’22 at 74, a pace that would almost reach 150 launches by the end of the year, smashing the annual record set last year. The U.S.’s pace in turn is likely to exceed the number of launches it completed in all of ’22 in July, with the possibility it could complete 75-80 launches by the end of the year, exceeding the U.S. annual record of 70 set in 1966.

Astronauts return from Chinese station; China launches satellite

Late yesterday China’s Shenzhou descent capsule successfully brought home three astronauts from its Tiangong-3 space station after spending six months in space.return from Chinese station.

During their stay they completed two spacewalks and prepared the station for the arrival of two more large modules in the next six months.

China yesterday also used its Long March 4C rocket to launch a new radar satellite designed to observe the Earth’s atmosphere.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

13 SpaceX
11 China
5 Russia
2 ULA
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 20 to 11 in the national rankings. Note that at this moment the U.S. total is more than all other nations combined (19).

China and Russia successfully launch satellites

Both China and Russia today successfully places satellites into orbit.

China used its Long March 4C rocket to place an Earth observation radar satellite into orbit. Russia in turn used its Soyuz-2 rocket to launch a military surveillance satellite. As both launched from interior spaceports, both dumped first stages and boosters on their respective countries.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

12 SpaceX
9 China
5 Russia
2 ULA
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 19 to 9 in the national rankings.

China launches military reconnaissance satellite

China today successfully launched its second Yaogon military reconnaissance satellite, using its Long March 4C rocket.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

10 SpaceX
6 China
2 ULA
2 Russia

The U.S. lead over China in the national rankings is now 16 to 6. Note too that tomorrow Russia is scheduled to launch another crew to ISS, using its Soyuz-2 rocket, while SpaceX plans another Starlink launch.

China successfully launched rockets twice today

China successfully launched two rockets this morning, one a Long March-4C carrying an Earth observation satellite and the second a Long March-8, carrying 22 smallsats.

The Long March-8 is one of China’s next generation rockets, meant to launch from its coastal spaceport and use less toxic fuels. Also, according to the state-run press article, its manufacture process is aimed at allowing for a launch rate of once per week.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

8 SpaceX
4 China
2 Russia

The U.S. leads China 11 to 4 in the national rankings.

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.

China launches another Earth observation satellite

China’s high pace of launches in 2021 continued yesterday with another launch, this time placing an Earth observation satellite into orbit using its Long March 4C rocket.

This was China’s 43rd successful launch in ’21, three more than it had predicted it would achieve at the start of the year and the most any single nation has accomplished since the Russians completed 49 in 1994.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

43 China
25 SpaceX
18 Russia
5 Europe (Arianespace)

China now leads the U.S. 43 to 40 in the national rankings.

China Long March 4C rocket launches satellite

According to China’s state-run press, the country launched an “earth observation” satellite today using its Long March 4C rocket.

The satellite is part of a series of similar satellites launched by civilian agencies ostensibly for civilian use. The rocket was launched from an interior spaceport. No word on whether its first stage carried grid fins or parachutes to control its landing in the interior of China, or whether it crashed near habitable areas.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

30 China
21 SpaceX
13 Russia
4 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. lead over China in the national rankings has now narrowed to 32 to 30.

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

China yesterday successfully launched an Earth observation satellite using its Long March 4C rocket from its interior Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in inner Mongolia. Its first stage, using toxic fuels, will fall on land somewhere in China.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

12 SpaceX
11 China
7 Russia
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 17 to 11 in the national rankings.

China’s Long March 4C launches Earth observation satellite

China today used its Long March 4C rocket to successfully place another Earth observation satellite into orbit.

The article at the link also gives a short update on the status of China’s space station, with its first module Tianhe-1 presently scheduled for launch on April 29th, using their biggest rocket, the Long March 5B.

The leaders in the 2021 launch race:

9 SpaceX
7 China
5 Russia
2 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 13 to 7 in the national rankings.

China launches three military ocean reconnaissance satellites

China successfully used its Long March 4C rocket to launch three military ocean reconnaissance satellites on Friday, March 13, 2021 (in China).

The article also includes some details about the upcoming schedule of launches in connection with China’s space station, beginning with the April 29th launch of the station’s first module, Tianhe-1, followed in May by the launch and docking of its unmanned Tianzhou-2 cargo freighter, and then followed by the first crew in June.

The 2021 launch race:

7 SpaceX
6 China
3 Russia
1 Rocket Lab
1 Virgin Orbit
1 Northrop Grumman
1 India

The U.S. still leads China 10 to 6 in the national rankings.

China’s Long March 4C rocket launches military reconnaissance satellite

In what is likely China’s last launch in 2020, a Long March 4C rocket today successfully launched what is thought to be a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit.

The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

35 China
25 SpaceX
15 Russia
6 ULA
6 Rocket Lab

The U.S. still leads China 40 to 35 in the national rankings. At the moment only one launch is publicly scheduled for the rest of the year, that by Europe’s Arianespace of a Soyuz rocket tomorrow from French Guiana.

My annual worldwide launch report will likely be posted on December 31st, as a New Year’s Eve gift to my readers.

China launches Earth resource satellite

Using its Long March 4C rocket China yesterday successfully launched Gaofen-12, a remote sensing satellite designd to study Earth resources.

The leaders in the 2019 launch race:

27 China
18 Russia
11 SpaceX
7 Europe (Arianespace)

China now leads the U.S. 27 to 23 in the national rankings.

The launch schedule remains very busy, with a Rocket Lab launch set for early tomorrow and two launches to ISS (a Dragon and Progress) scheduled next week. In fact, seventeen launches are tentatively listed for launch in December, which would be once every other day. Several are unlikely, but regardless December will be a very busy month in the launch industry.

China has launch failure

A Chinese launch of a military satellite using a Long March 4C rocket failed today.

It appears the failure occurred with the third stage. This rocket is one of China’s smaller rockets, and is mostly used for polar launches of smaller satellites. It is likely therefore that the failure will not impact their planetary and manned programs, both of which depend on different and larger rockets.

China launches Earth observation satellite

China’s Long March 4C rocket today launched an Earth observation remote sensing satellite.

I think I need to put together an outline of all of China’s operational rockets. The 4C appears to be similar to the 4B, but knowing how it differs from their other rockets, and why they have each, would be helpful information.

The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

14 China
8 SpaceX
5 Russia
5 ULA

China has once again pulled ahead of the U.S., 14-13, in the national standings.

Another successful launch for China today

China successfully completed its tenth launch for 2018 today, placing three Landsat-type Earth observation satellites into orbit with its Long March 4C rocket.

The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:

10 China
6 SpaceX
4 Russia
3 Japan
3 ULA

There have now been 29 launches in the year’s first three months, suggesting a pace that will give us about 120 launches total for the year, the most launches since the 1980s. Then, the Soviet Union was putting up a lot of rockets it could not afford and were not really practical. Now, we have some real competition and profits being made putting up satellites that fill a need. The numbers should only get higher in the coming years.