Thursday, February 22, 2024

China seeks to improve management of commercial space launches

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In recent days we have written about it New space missiles that China It is developed to allow easier access to space For scientific, governmental and commercial reasons. The goal is to compete with Europe, but especially with the United States to try not to lag behind in the new space race. For this reason, the creation of commercial companies for the construction of new carriers (orbital and suborbital) has been encouraged, without losing sight of the facts directly related to government agencies and government research bodies.

Some examples of new space rockets under development are the Long March 10 (CZ-10) or Long March 5F that should carry Chinese astronauts to the moon. More ambitious is the Long March 9 launcher which will be a competitor to SpaceX’s Starship considering that it will be almost as large and will also focus on reuse. An increasing number of Space launches It also brings with it other consequences with more complex management. That’s why CNSA extension It established a series of points that anyone wanting to head towards must follow space from China.

China and regulation of space access to commercial reality

In the The document has been posted online You can read some directions that may seem obvious, but are instead a good starting point for the Asian country. As written, the intention is to organize civil space launch activities and seriously fulfill the obligations of the parties to the International Convention on Outer Space, especially for new commercial companies in this sector.

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long walk

The first point shows how, to attempt to obtain the launch license, it is necessary to attach a copy of the Liability insurance policy to cover any damages. Information on the launch and recovery area is then requested, as well as information on the construction materials used. However, the most interesting part has to do with commitment China in mitigating the establishment space debris Which is a serious problem to deal with as launch activities grow.

Authorities will need access to information such as payload including size, mass and orbits used. Point 4 states that satellites or other spacecraft must include techniques for effective deorbiting at the end of their service life. The higher stages that must be able to perform are also indicated out of orbit. Information about the end of life of a satellite or rocket must be sent immediately to the agencies to update the databases.

It seems that this particular point is a step forward in not seeing the creation of such missiles The Long March 5b That has caused more than a few problems in the past with Chinese space station module launches. In the second half of 2023, we will witness the launch of 5B Long March to put the first satellites into orbit for high-speed Internet communications (a kind of Chinese Starlink) thanks to Yuanzheng-2 upper stage. In 2024, the Xuntian telescope will be launched again using the same vector.

long walk

It should be borne in mind that at the moment it is not possible to significantly modify a missile of this type, which will remain in an uncontrolled re-entry. one of “Gaps” It can be linked to the fact that these launches will not (maybe) fall under the commercial program but rather under the government programme. Information in this regard is scarce.

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As written above, although they are general guidelines, they are a good starting point that can allow for better management by China of its activities in space. In fact, we have to take into account that last year almost the same number of launches as SpaceX were carried out but with a fraction of the mass (in the first three months of 2023, the mass of the payload that Elon Musk put into orbit was equal to all of China in 2022). However, this year the goal is to exceed 60 launches with more than 200 satellites in orbit. On the other hand, SpaceX aims to launch 100 times. The year 2023 should also mark the historic milestone of launching a 500 family business long walk (Long March or Chang Cheng) in its various versions.

Wynne Dinwiddie
Wynne Dinwiddie
"Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst."
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