• Sat. Jul 31st, 2021

From the Wenchang spaceport, China launches the first Long March 8


Dec 28, 2020

The first flight of the new medium-lift Long March 8 rocket was successfully carried out by China late on Monday, signaling a tiny step towards rocket reusability by China. At exactly 11:37 p.m. Eastern on December 21, the 50.3-meter-long, Long March 8 sailed off. It weighs 356-ton. It was carrying 5 satellites into Sun-synchronous orbits from Wenchang launch site. Owing to the weather, the launch was postponed for two days.

About 40 minutes later, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which is state-owned, confirmed the progress of the launch. The Long March 8 combines the first stage kerosene-liquid oxygen 3.35-meter-diameter Long March with the second stage hydrolox 3-meter-diameter from Long March 3A series. A set of YF-100 kerolox engines power the core stage, whereas two side boosters, which have a diameter of 2.25 meter utilize one YF-100 engine each.

The China Academy of the Launch Vehicle Technology abbreviated as CALT, a CASC subsidiary that built and assembled the booster, reports (Chinese) that the latest rocket fills the void in China’s potential deployments in 3-4.5 ton range to the Sun-synchronous orbit. Like the latest generation, the Long March 7,6,5 launch vehicles, the Long March 8 is planned to replace and update the ageing hypergolic Long March 4,3 and 2 families of China. In the year, 2015, the latest launchers first started deploying.

Long March 8 is set to be adapted in the future for reusability. Around the moment of highest dynamic pressure, the thrust got throttled down around 77.5% during the launch. “The technology of thrust adjustment is a leading technique for rocket reusability and should be mastered,” says Xiao Yun, the Long March 8 commander-in-chief. Further experiments are scheduled for 2021 relevant to both the vertical take-off as well as vertical landing.

XJY-7, a secret remote sensing system research satellite built by the China Academy of the Space Technology, was the principal payload (CAST). The satellite’s mass is considered to be about 3 tons. Also onboard were 4 smaller payloads. Haisea-1 for Spacety, which is a commercial Chinese satellite corporation established in the year 2016, is the very first miniature synthetic-aperture radar satellite.

Hisea-1 uses a phased-array antenna to be a C-band SAR satellite. It has a combined mass of 180 kilograms and a resolution of 1 meter. The SAR payload was provided by the China Electronics Technology Group, abbreviated as (CETC), while Xiamen University was engaged in payload and satellite production. The satellite is going to be used for applications including coastal and marine study.