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Big space plans in the works for 2016


04-25-2016 05:42 BJT

Full coverage: China Astronautics Day

2016 will be a year worthy of the history books for China's aerospace development. Big plans are in the works as the country seeks to further develop its space program. On April the 18th, the re-entry capsule of China's first retrievable microgravity satellite, SJ-10, returned safely to Earth. During its 12-day journey in space, 19 experiments on microgravity and life sciences were carried out on board. Zhao Huiguang, chief architect of the SJ-10, said the success heralded a new "spring" for the nation's retrievable satellites project.

And here's something to look forward to... the next generation Long March 5 heavy lift rocket and medium Long March 7 will debut this year. These new rockets will use environmentally friendly propellant and will feature first class space technologies. Over 200 Long March series rockets have been launched in over 4 decades.

But that's not all. China will send its second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 into space in the third quarter of this year, which is expected to dock with a cargo ship scheduled to be launched in the first half of next year. As part of the country's space lab program, China also plans to launch the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, which will carry two astronauts on board, in the fourth quarter of this year to dock with Tiangong-2.

And last but not least, China will also launch the Gaofen-3 remote sensing satellite in 2016, as part of its high-definition earth observation system project. The goal of the Gaofen series is to provide an all-weather, 24-hour service covering the globe.

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