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The ambitious Chinese space program in 2023

After 64 launches in 2022, a record, China plans to achieve around 60 in 2023. A high rate of launches therefore, but which does not surprise us. This reflects the progress and ambitions of its space program on which it relies and counts to maintain its status as a great world power.

In 2022, China therefore broke a record for launches, completed the construction of its space station and carried out two manned flights (Shenzhou 14 and 15) beginning what should become a permanent occupation of its orbital complex. These flights obviously do not sum up the very wide variety of launches carried out throughout the past year. Sixty launches are as many missions sent into space. This reflects the very great maturity of the Chinese space program as a whole, although in certain aspects technological catching up is still necessary.

In 2023, the pace of launches is expected to be sustained, with at least 60 flights. But, unsurprisingly, China communicates a minima on the news of its space programs. This figure was put forward by many Chinese media following the traditional back-to-school conference of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CAST). This state-owned company is the leader of the Chinese space industry and manages the main space programs of the country, such as those related to launchers, satellites, orbital infrastructures, manned space transport and many others, as well as military programs such as missiles. strategic and tactical.

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CAST is planning some 50 launches this year, including the inaugural flight of the Long March 6C. Most of these launches will be carried out by launchers from the family Long March and some by solid propellant rockets Smart Dragon. It also plans a dozen flights of solid propellant launchers from the family Kuaizhou with versions 1A and 11.

Mission record in 2022

In 2022, China therefore carried out 64 launches, 53 of which were carried out by launchers from the Long March family. Thirty of these missions were carried out on behalf of the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and 23 on behalf of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. These two academies are in the bosom of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The small Kuaizhou launcher, which is characterized by solid propellant propulsion, has made five flights, including a successful first for Kuaizhou 11, after a failure in July 2020 during its maiden flight. In July, the Lijian-1 (ZK-1A) launch vehicle successfully completed its first-ever flight. Lijian-1 is China’s largest and most powerful solid rocket launcher.

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Finally, three Chinese private companies made four launches with their own models last year, but two of them ended in failure.

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