New rocket rar­ing for busy launch sched­ule

China Daily (Canada) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO LEI in Wuhan zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China Aerospace Science and In­dus­try Corp, a ma­jor space and de­fense con­trac­tor, plans to carry out at least eight com­mer­cial launches us­ing its Kuaizhou 1A car­rier rocket be­fore the end of 2019, ac­cord­ing to a high-rank­ing ex­ec­u­tive.

Zhang Di, a se­nior rocket sci­en­tist and chair­man of Ex­pace Tech­nol­ogy, a CASIC sub­sidiary that pro­vides com­mer­cial launch ser­vices, told China Daily in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view on Wed­nes­day that two Kuaizhou 1As are sched­uled to lift off be­fore the end of this year from the Ji­uquan Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in North­west China.

Next year, six Kuaizhou 1A launches are sched­uled, with one to be con­ducted for a for­eign client, he said, not­ing that in ad­di­tion to these con­firmed launches, Ex­pace Tech­nol­ogy is in talks with clients on launch ser­vice con­tracts in­volv­ing more than 10 new Kuaizhou 1As.

“The rocket is pop­u­lar in the com­mer­cial launch mar­ket. We have made pro­duc­tion sched­ules for at least 19 Kuaizhou 1As,” Zhang said.

The rocket sci­en­tist made the re­marks on the side­lines of the Fourth China In­ter­na­tional Com­mer­cial Aerospace Fo­rum, which opened on Wed­nes­day in Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince. Co-hosted by the Wuhan city govern­ment and a num­ber of space con­trac­tors, the three-day fo­rum will see about 400 at­ten­dees from 12 na­tions in­clud­ing the United States, Rus­sia and Ger­many.

Kuaizhou is the largest solid-pro­pel­lant rocket fam­ily in China, as op­posed to the Long March series, which mainly re­lies on liq­uid fuel.

The Kuaizhou 1A’s first mis­sion was in Jan­uary 2017, lift­ing three small satel­lites from Ji­uquan into a sun-syn­chro­nous or­bit.

The 20-me­ter rocket has a liftoff weight of about 30 met­ric tons. It is ca­pa­ble of send­ing 200 kilo­grams of pay­load into a sun-syn­chro­nous or­bit, or 300 kg of pay­load into a low-Earth or­bit.

Be­yond Kuaizhou 1A, Zhang’s com­pany is de­vel­op­ing the Kuaizhou 11, which will be China’s largest and most pow­er­ful solid-pro­pel­lant car­rier rocket. The new type will have a length of 25 me­ters, a di­am­e­ter of 2.2 me­ters, and a liftoff weight of 78 tons. It will be able to place a 1-ton pay­load into a sun-syn­chro­nous or­bit at an al­ti­tude of 700 km, or a 1.5-ton pay­load into a low-Earth or­bit.

“Kuaizhou 11’s re­search and de­vel­op­ment has been pro­ceed­ing well. We hope that it will make its first flight in the near fu­ture,” Zhang said.

He an­tic­i­pated that com­pared with Kuaizhou 1A, Kuaizhou 11 will have even brighter prospects be­cause it will have a stronger launch ca­pac­ity that will al­low it to lift a wider range of satel­lites.

“It will be able to place six to 10 small satel­lites into or­bit dur­ing a sin­gle mis­sion, which will be very ef­fi­cient and eco­nom­i­cal for our cus­tomers,” Zhang said. “We have been in talks with sev­eral clients on Kuaizhou 11 mis­sions.”

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