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China sends Long March 6A on maiden flight

Updated: Mar 30,2022 07:19

China conducted the maiden flight of the Long March 6A carrier rocket on the afternoon of March 29 at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

The 50-meter rocket blasted off at 5:50 pm and then roared into the dusk. It transported two satellites — Pujiang 2 and Tiankun 2 — to their orbit, the State-owned space contractor said in a statement.

The launch marked the 412th flight of the Long March rocket family and the seventh space mission by China in 2022.

Developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, the Long March 6A is a medium-lift rocket and consists of a 50-meter, liquid-propelled core booster and four solid-fuel side boosters. The core booster has a diameter of 3.35 meters and will be propelled by two 120-ton-thrust engines burning liquid oxygen and kerosene.

The rocket has a liftoff weight of 530 metric tons and will be tasked with transporting satellites to multiple types of orbit, including sun-synchronous, low-Earth and intermediate circular orbit.

Despite being called Long March 6A, the new model will be very different from Long March 6, also designed and built by the Shanghai academy.

Long March 6 is about 30 meters tall and weighs 102 tons, much smaller and lighter than the new model. It was first launched in September 2015 and has fulfilled six flights.

Hong Gang, the rocket's project manager at the academy, said the Long March 6A is China's first rocket to use both liquid- and solid-propellant engines as its main propulsion.

The Pujiang 2, also made by the Shanghai academy, is tasked with carrying out in-orbit scientific tests and surveying land resources.

Developed and built by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, another State-owned contractor, the Tiankun 2 will be used to demonstrate and verify several advanced space technologies.