China to carry out over 50 space launches in 2022: CASC blue book
Updated 22:19, 11-Feb-2022
Zhao Chenchen, Cao Qingqing, Sun Ye

China's primary space contractor plans to carry out more than 50 space launches in 2022, sending over 140 spacecraft into space, the company announced Wednesday.

"The year 2022 will see China's projects in space at the top of its game," Ma Tao, the deputy chief of the space department at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), said at a press conference about the 2021 edition of the "Blue Book of China Aerospace Science and Technology Activities."

Among the many tasks planned for 2022, Ma noted that six launches will be dedicated to China's manned space project to build a perennially tended space station with the Tianhe core module as the command center and the Wentian and Mengtian lab modules as experimental platforms. 

These missions include the launches of the space station's two lab modules, two cargo vessels and two manned spaceships. 

"We will complete the rendezvous and docking of the two lab modules with the core module under manned condition to complete the T-shaped design for the space station," said Bai Linhou, the deputy chief designer of space station system at CASC. 

"Once completed, we will run a comprehensive test of the T-shaped space station, which will last for about a month. After that, it will enter full operation," he said.

Bai said the six missions will set a new record because of the tight launch schedule and the fact that the missions are highly coupled and interrelated. 

"Meanwhile, we will also see an unprecedented number of times for spacecraft docking and detaching in this year," he said.

Read more: What to expect from China's space station in 2022?

A Long March-7 rocket, carrying the Tianzhou-3 cargo ship, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan Province, China, September 20, 2021. /CFP

A Long March-7 rocket, carrying the Tianzhou-3 cargo ship, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan Province, China, September 20, 2021. /CFP

A year full of milestones

In a few weeks, a Long March-8 rocket is due for launch, sending a record-breaking 22 satellites into space in one go. 

In April, the Shenzhou-13 crew currently aboard China's space station will set a new record of living six months in space and is expected to return to Earth and touch down in the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, according to Shao Limin, the deputy technology manager of the manned spaceship system of China Academy of Space Technology.

In addition, Ma said the maiden flight of the Long March-6A rocket, a medium-lift carrier rocket, is also scheduled to take place in 2022. He said many other commercial rockets are looking forward to having their inaugural voyage to space as well. 

China tops the global list with record number of space launches in 2021

A total of 146 space launches were conducted worldwide in 2021, the highest number since 1957, sending a record number of 1,846 spacecraft with a combined mass of 777.7 tonnes into space, according to the blue book.

The blue book said the success rate of global space launches in 2021 reached 92.5 percent throughout the year, noting that space launches were still quite high-risk.

Among all the launches, 55 were carried out by China, the most in the world in the past year. The aggregate weight of spacecraft sent into orbit by China reached 191.19 tonnes, an 85.5 percent increase from the previous year.

Read more: Highlights of China's space missions in record-setting 2021

The U.S. came second with 51 launches, but it sent a total of 403.34 tonnes of spacecraft into space, which exceeded the combined mass of spacecraft launched by all the other countries in the year.

Russia, Europe, Japan and India ranked from third to sixth in terms of the number of launches, said the blue book.

Search Trends