China’s Long March-8 maiden flight.
Credit: CASC


Following a week of ocean transport, China’s new generation carrier rocket, the Long March-8 Y2, has arrived at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province.

The rocket was carried in pieces to the center by ship from Tianjin, a northern coastal municipality.

According to the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the Long March-8 mission is to take off between late February and early March.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Rocket details

The Long March-8 is a two-stage medium-lift carrier rocket, with two side boosters. It is 50.3 meters long, with a takeoff weight of 356 tons. It uses liquid propellants with a 5-ton capacity for sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700 kilometers, or hurling satellites weighing up to 2.8 tons to geostationary transfer orbit.

This booster is designed for both land and sea launches, and made its maiden flight on December 22, 2020 from the Wenchang coastal launch site. Long March 8 can also be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern Gobi Desert.

Long March-8 flyback booster.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Similar to SpaceX first stages, the Long March-8 is ultimately to make upright landings.

Backbone of launches

The Long March series is the backbone supporting China’s space launches. It has shouldered 92 percent of China’s launch missions since a Long March rocket placed the Dongfanghong-1 satellite in orbit 51 years ago. In the past half century and more, the series has sent over 700 spacecraft into space, with a success rate of 96 percent, reports China’s People’s Daily.

China carried out the most space launch missions in the world over 2021. Among the missions, 48 launches were made by the Long March series carrier rockets, all successful. It was the first time in history that the Long March series completed more than 40 launch missions within a year. The 400th launch of the series also came last year, notes the People’s Daily story.

For an earlier video dated December 22, 2020 that focuses on this booster, go to:

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