China's Long March, the other record-breaking launcher
China's Long March, the other record-breaking launcher
© Société industrielle de la Grande Muraille de Chine (CGWIC)

China's Long March, the other record-breaking launcher

While the Western world tends to rave about SpaceX's impressive string of successes, it shouldn't take its eyes off what's been happening in China for some time now...

31st mission of the year

On July 26 at 20:02 UTC, China dispatched from the Xichang base, in the southwestern province of Sichuan, a Long March 2D launch vehicle tasked with deploying three new Yaogan reconnaissance satellites into low-Earth orbit, on behalf of the People's Liberation Army.

This launch marked China's 31st successful orbital mission since January 8 (if you count the test flight of the medium launcher Zhuque 2, on July 12, without payload), and the 22nd with a Long March launcher.


3.8 missions per month

China's Great Wall Industrial Corporation (CGWIC - China Great Wall Industry Corporation) could above all rejoice in signing on July 26 the 150th success in a row for the Long March launcher family since May 5, 2020.

At the time, China had debuted its most powerful launcher, the Long March 5B (a Long March 5 with no upper stage and capable of shipping 23 tons to low-Earth orbit), with a view to assembling the modules for China's Great Space Station, completed in October 2022.

On this occasion, a new 21.6-tonne Chinese XZF capsule had been placed in low-Earth orbit, tested in automatic mode, then recovered after three days, with a high-speed return to Earth (around 9 km/s), simulating the end of a lunar mission.

Thus, with 150 Long March missions carried out in 39 months (i.e. 3.8 flights per month), China is on a par with the staggering SpaceX, which over the same period carried out... 158 missions of the Falcon 9 and 4 of the Falcon Heavy.

In addition, the Chinese launcher was carrying out its 480th mission since entering service in April 1970 - the 78th of the 2D family, which appeared in August 1992.


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