The long march into outer space


  • China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center (XSLC), built in the heat of the rivalry between China and the Soviet Union in the sixties, has hit the headlines this month.
  • On February 12, the space station was used for launching two Beidou-3 satellites. By 2020, these ‘eyes in the sky’, as part of a 30-member family, will become operational, rivalling the U.S. Air Force’s Global Positioning System (GPS).

Beidou Navigation Satellite System:

  • The Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BNSS) will provide another navigation option. Along with Russian Glonass and Europe’s Galileo systems, it will assist users — in cars, ships and planes — to accurately reach their destinations in any part of the globe.
  • Throughout 2018, Long March-3A rockets will send 18 Beidou-3 satellites into space, enabling the Beidou system to provide navigation and positioning services to countries along the Belt and Road.
  • The Chinese seemed to have narrowed down on Long March-7 rockets as the heavy-duty vehicle of choice for building the space station.
  • The plans are only getting bigger. By 2030, China wants to perfect a heavy-lift carrier rocket, currently called Long March-9, according to the Science and Technology Committee of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
  • The Long March-9 rocket aspires to lift a jaw-dropping 100 tonnes of payload into space. 


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