Countdowns to Smart Dragon rocket launches

World | REUTERS 21 Oct 2019

Test flights for two space rockets in China's Smart Dragon series meant for commercial use will be in 2020 and 2021, Xinhua News Agency announced yesterday as a likely boom in satellites gathers pace.

The release of the flight schedule by China Rocket, a unit of state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology, comes two months after the firm's first reusable rocket, the 23-tonne Smart Dragon-1, put three satellites into orbit.

China envisions constellations of satellites that can offer services ranging from high-speed internet for aircraft to tracking coal shipments.

The solid-propellant Smart Dragon-2, weighing some 60 tonnes with a length of 21 meters, will be capable of sending 500-kilogram payloads into orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers. It is expected to be on a flight test next year.

At about 116 tonnes and with a length of 31m, the Smart Dragon-3, set for a test flight in 2021, will be capable of sending 1.5 tonne payloads into orbit.

In July, iSpace became the first private Chinese firm to deliver a satellite into orbit on its rocket.

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