On April 18, China’s first retrievable microgravity satellite, the SJ-10 returned safely to earth. The capsule was launched on April 6. During its journey in space, 19 experiments on microgravity and life sciences were carried out on board.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the start of China’s space exploration.
Two new-generation Long March rockets, the heavy-lift Long March-5 and the medium-sized Long March-7, will also make their maiden space trips this year. The less environmentally damaging models will eventually replace the earlier Long March rockets to meet demand for space launches at home and abroad.
This year, China will also send up its second space laboratory Tiangong-2. It is scheduled to dock with manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11, which will reportedly carry two male Chinese astronauts for a 30-day mission. The new space lab has been modified to make it more liveable for medium-term stays for astronauts.
China is also set to launch a satellite for quantum information and technology experiments in 2016. The technology will eventually allow the ability to beam a message across the planet with supposedly unhackable encryption.
China’s first domestically-produced large passenger aircraft, the C919 is scheduled to have its maiden flight this year. The plane has 158 seats, a standard range of some four thousand kilometers and an extended range of over five thousand kilometers.
China will launch 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.
A single-aperture spherical telescope on earth will be competed this year in Pingtang country in Southwest China’s Guizhou province. The telescope “FAST” will have an aperture of 500 meters, and is expected to be the world’s largest.