Why China's Aerospace Industry Needs Technological Heroes – Sixth Tone

On the evening of July 2, China launched the Long March 5 rocket at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center in Hainan, China’s southernmost province. Shortly afterward, an engine failure sent the rocket plummeting into the Pacific Ocean.

The specter of failure always looms over space launches; however, setbacks have become somewhat more frequent for China’s space program in recent years. On June 19, just a couple of weeks before the failed launch of Long March 5, the Long March 3B carrier rocket launched from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan with the ChinaSat 9A communications satellite as its payload. However, another engine malfunction initially prevented the satellite from entering its planned orbit. Two failed launches also occurred in 2016.

Some might say that the failure of the Long March 5 is to be expected, as it is a relatively new model. Concerningly, however, the other failures all occurred with more established rocket models. And for me, what’s most worrying of all is the recent attitude change inside the China National Space Administration (CNSA) regarding these failures.

On Aug. 18, 2011, the launch of the Long March 2C-Y26 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region was unsuccessful due to a connection failure between one of the engines and its control system. The failed test cast doubt on the launch center’s planned space dock between the Tiangong-1 space module and the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, a maneuver that would be a first for China.

Some said that Tiangong-1 could be launched as scheduled, claiming that the rocket propelling it into orbit — also a member of the Long March class — was built to a different, better-tested specification. However, the mission command center was resolute that the launch of Tiangong-1 should be halted

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