The Chinese Corporation of Aerospace Science and Technology (CASC) has announced its plans to launch three new missiles this year and begin utilizing reusable accelerators next year.

As reported by Chinese media this week, the director of the Corporation for Research and Development, Van Wei, stated that Beijing is preparing two reusable accelerators for launch, one with a diameter of four meters and the other five meters. To provide a comparison, the SpaceX Falcon has a diameter of 3.7 meters, the Starship is nine meters, and the NASA Space Launch System (SLS) measures 8.4 meters.

The diameter of the accelerator indicates the potential payload volume but not necessarily the mass that the rocket can lift. The specific roles these accelerators will play in the Chinese space program remain unclear at this time.

Van Wei has confirmed that the smaller of the two accelerators will be launched in 2025, with the larger one following a year later.

The adoption of reusable accelerators is seen as a strategic move to reduce space launches. This week, CASC announced in a statement its plans to conduct over 100 launches in 2024 alone. Among these launches will be the debut of three new missiles:

  • “Long March-6C” – a single-core two-stage launch vehicle with a diameter of 3.35 meters designed for various orbital missions;
  • “Long March-12” – China’s first single-stage liquid launch vehicle with a diameter of 3.8 meters, capable of delivering up to 10 tons of cargo to low near-earth orbit or at least six tons to a geosynchronous orbit 700 km high, utilizing a two-stage configuration with six engines running on liquid oxygen and kerosene;
  • Renewed “Long March 8” with an increased diameter of the second stage to 3.35 meters to enhance carrying capacity.

This week, successful tests were conducted on the engine of the second stage of the Long March 8 missile. Additionally, astronauts at the Chinese Space Station were engaged in various activities, including the repair of solar panels to address damage caused by collisions with micrometeorites.

/Reports, release notes, official announcements.