China Academy of Space Technology Current Affairs - 2020

Long March-5: China successfully launches largest carrier rocket

China has successfully launched its largest carrier rocket, Long March-5, carrying the Shijian-20 satellite, from Wenchang Space Launch Center (WSLC) in south China’s Hainan Province. China’s most powerful rocket is a critical ingredient in nation’s ambitious space programme.

About Long March-5

The rocket which is also known as CZ-5 is China’s heaviest and most advanced communications satellite. It can carry a maximum payload of 25 tonnes into low Earth orbit (LEO) and 14 tonnes into geosynchronous orbit. The successful launch is a major step forward for China’s planned mission to Mars in 2020.

It blasted off with more than 1,000 tonnes of thrust. The mission was declared a complete success by Chinese space authorities after lift-off when Shijian-20 satellite it carried entered its designated orbit. This is China’s third attempt to launch rocket and first attempt was made in 2016. However, during first attempt, the rocket failed to reach speed required for early phase of flight. The second attempt also failed.

About Shijian-20 satellite

It is a new technology test and verification satellite. The satellite will lay foundation for development of highly sensitive space probes. Shijian-20 weighs more than 8 tonnes and will carry out orbit experiments for a series of key technologies. It is China’s heaviest and most advanced communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit. It is made by ‘China Academy of Space Technology (CAST)’ under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

CBERS-4A: New China-Brazil earth resource satellite launched into space

The China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A (CBERS-4A), a new satellite jointly developed by China and Brazil as part of a bilateral programme, was recently sent into space, thus further pushes forward the aerospace cooperation between two countries. It was launched on a Long March-4B carrier from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi Province of China. The same rocket also put into orbits another 8 satellites, including a wide-range multispectral remote-sensing microsatellite donated to Ethiopia (which is also Ethiopia’s first satellite).

About China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellite-4A (CBERS-4A)

CBERS-4A is equipped with 3 optical payloads:- a wide-range panchromatic multispectral camera developed by China, and a wide-field imager and a multispectral camera developed by Brazil. It will obtain global optical remote-sensing data and will also support Brazilian government’s to monitor Amazon rainforest and changes in country’s environment.

It will also be used in fields such as earth resource monitoring, agriculture, environmental protection, meteorology, surveying and mapping, and serve Brazil and more developing countries. It can also provide services for African, Latin American and Asian countries.

The satellite was jointly developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and National Institute for Space Research (NISR) of Brazil, while the carrier rocket was developed by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

Background: CBERS-4A will replace CBERS-4 (which was launched in 2014), to improve the resolution of remote-sensing data. The satellite is 6th satellite under earth resource satellite cooperation program between two countries that began in 1988. The satellites designed under program are for Earth observation from orbit for non-military use and first such earth research satellite was launched from China in 1999.

NOTE: The China and Brazil bilateral programme is also seen as a template for broader cooperation among both countries as well as Russia, India and South Africa (i.e. BRICS nation overall). Currently, only South Africa in BRICS bloc does not have satellites of its own.