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China to Develop Multiple Carrier Rockets

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China to Develop Multiple Carrier Rockets
October 21, 2019

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China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) announced the development of solid-propellant and liquid-propellant carrier rockets, on Saturday.

ChinaRocket, the commercial space wing of CALT, said it is designing two types of solid-propellant carrier rockets — Smart Dragon 2 (SD-2) and Smart Dragon 3 (SD-3) — and at least one liquid-propellant type, the Flying Dragon 1 (FD-1), China Daily reported on Monday.

“The company will strive for annual production of up to ten SD-2s and eight SD-3s to meet demand from the burgeoning commercial space industry,” said Tang Yagang, president of ChinaRocket.

“The SD series is designed to provide reliable, convenient and economic launch services for commercial satellite enterprises to build their networks or test their equipment,” Tang said.

The SD-2 will be 21 meters tall with a diameter of 2 meters, and will have a lift-off weight of 60 metric tons. It will be capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload to a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500km. Flight tests are to begin next year.

The SD-3, with a total length of 31 meters, a diameter of 2.6 meters and a liftoff weight of about 116 tons, will be capable of sending more than 1.5 tons to the same orbit. Its maiden flight is penciled in for 2021.

The FD-1 will be a medium-lift, liquid-fuel rocket that is reusable. It is currently in the detailed planning phase. Designers expect the rocket to ferry medium-size and large satellites, or several small satellites. The first flight is planned for 2021.

The Smart Dragon 1 or the SD-1 is first in the series, and the youngest member of China's carrier rocket family. It made its debut flight in August 2019, successfully placing three satellites into an orbit about 550km above Earth. The SD-1 is 19.5 meters tall, has a diameter of 1.2 meters and weighs 23.1 tons. The rocket can place multiple satellites with a combined weight of 200 kg into a sun-synchronous orbit 500 km above the ground. It is China's smallest and lightest carrier rocket.

Additionally, China’s iSpace start-up is building a reusable rocket that will be the first of its kind in the country to be built by a private enterprise. The SQX-2 will be 28 meters tall, have a diameter of 3.35 meters and a lift-off weight of about 90 tons. It will be capable of sending a 1.9-ton satellite to a low-Earth orbit or a 1.1-ton payload to a 500-km sun-synchronous orbit.
 

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