China sends 22 satellites into orbit with redesigned Long March-8
Updated 17:20, 27-Feb-2022

China successfully launched 22 new satellites in a single ride on Sunday morning, setting a new national record, from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in southern Hainan Province.

A modified version of China's Long March-8 carrier rocket blasted off at 11:06 am and flew for more than 15 minutes before deploying all of the 22 small satellites into their designated orbit.

The satellites, built by seven institutes and private companies, have individual tasks including collecting commercial remote-sensing data, environmental monitoring, forest fire prevention and disaster reduction.

"You can call it a 'shared rocket' if you want," said Xiao Yun, the commander in chief for the launch. "We prepare one or two types of rockets every year for that. If there are many satellites to launch, we use a big rocket. If only a few to launch, we have smaller rockets."

Today's launch marks the 409th mission of China's Long March rocket series.

Long March-8 redesigned

This is the second launch of the Long March-8 rocket, which is designed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) aiming at commercial launches. The first mission launched in late 2020.

It's clearly noticeable in the launch video that the new rocket lacks the two boosters found on its predecessor, which means the design is one step closer to making the first stages reusable like SpaceX's Falcon 9.

Reusable design can save launch costs and help achieve better commercial success.

"The Long March-8 can launch 3 tonnes of satellites into low Earth orbit (LEO) or medium Earth orbit," said Wu Yitian, deputy chief designer of the rocket. "Such rockets are urgently needed by the market, especially to launch Earth observation satellites."

A China Media Group report said the Long March-8 will hopefully become the main type for future LEO missions.

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