HELSINKI — China is set to attempt a return-to-flight of its Long March 5 rocket at the end of the year, with success required for the country to proceed with its major space ambitions.
Two cargo transport ships left port on the Yangtze river late Friday Eastern for the northern city of Tianjin. They are expected to collect components of a third Long March 5 heavy-lift launch vehicle, which has been grounded since a 2017 launch failure.
After expected arrival Oct. 15 and subsequent loading, Yuanwang-21 and 22 ships will deliver the rocket to the island province of Hainan. Launch preparations requiring about two months will then commence at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.
The launch expected late December will attempt to send the Shijian-20 experimental communications satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit. The satellite is based on a new, large DFH-5 satellite platform which supports satellites from 6,500 to 9,000 kilograms.
Shijian-20, or ‘Practice-20’, will increase the country’s high-throughput communications satellite capacity to 300 gigabits per second. This would be an increase from the current 20 Gbps with the predecessor DFH-4.
China is planning to launch an orbiter and rover to Mars in 2020 via the fourth Long March 5, ...