Among the noteworthy highlights from this year: CASC plans to launch more than 140 spacecraft in 50+ launches in 2022
, with this compared to 48 launch missions completed by CASC in 2021. Among the 50+ launches will be the maiden launches of the Long March-6A and the Jielong-3 rockets
, with the former being a considerably scaled up version of the Long March-6 (with four side boosters, and a height of 50m compared to 30m for the LM-6), and with the latter being a commercialized rocket being marketed by CALT subsidiary China Rocket. With a liftoff weight of 140 metric tons, the Jielong-3 rocket will become China’s largest and most powerful solid-propellant rocket when it enters service
In addition, the two other main focuses
of China’s largest space conglomerate during 2022 will be the completion of the CSS with 6 planned missions (2x lab modules, 2x crewed, 2x cargo), and deepening R&D related to space exploration missions, notably the 4th Phase of the Lunar Exploration program and various asteroid missions.
Overall, the Blue Book emphasizes on launch vehicles and on the CSS, yet contains little information about satellite/constellation projects - which is perhaps not surprising given that CASC is not the main contractor for most of China’s biggest constellation plans. Noteworthily, the launch sector seems to be catching up with the satellite manufacturing one: satellites have indeed been built faster than rockets, limiting somewhat the number of satellites being launched. If until now, most launches were dedicated to China’s national space programme, we can expect increased capabilities for commercial satellites in the near future.