Nation soars ahead with space missions

By ZHAO LEI | China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-13 08:18
A Long March 5 rocket lifts off on Dec 27 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province to place the Shijian 20, the largest, heaviest and most advanced domestic satellite, into orbit. [Photo by Xu Jingxing/China Daily]

Lunar expedition tops list of notable achievements

Last year, a long chapter was written in the history of China's space industry, with a host of memorable events taking place.

The nation carried out more space missions than any other country, with 32 successful orbital launches.

At the start of last year, the country mounted the world's first expedition to the far side of the moon, which had never before been closely observed by a spacecraft. The Chang'e 4 robotic probe landed on the far side in early January last year after a 26-day journey that began at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. It was the country's fourth mission to explore the moon.

Yutu 2, the world's seventh lunar rover and the first to reach the far side, was released from the spacecraft to survey the landing site near the moon's South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest and deepest known in the solar system.

The robot has been operating on the lunar surface for about 370 days-a record. The previous mark was set by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 1, which worked on the moon for 321 days in 1970 and 1971.

According to the China National Space Administration, Yutu 2 has traveled nearly 360 meters on the lunar surface.

In June, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the nation's leading maker of carrier rockets, carried out the country's first seaborne launch of a rocked in the Yellow Sea.

A Long March 11 solid-propellant rocket was fired from a mobile launch platform in the waters off Shandong province, sending seven satellites into orbit nearly 600 kilometers above the Earth.

The mission-the world's first seaborne space launch for five years-shows that China has the technologies and capabilities required for such an operation and also indicates that the country has found an alternative to its ground-based launch centers.

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