II. Major Developments Since 2011
Since 2011 China's space industry has witnessed rapid progress manifested by markedly enhanced capacity in independent innovation and access to outer space, constant improvement in space infrastructure, smooth implementation of major projects such as manned spaceflight, lunar exploration, the Beidou Navigation System and high-resolution earth observation system, and substantial achievements in space science, technology and applications.
1.Space transportation system
From 2011 to November 2016 the Long March carrier rocket series completed 86 launch missions, sending over 100 spacecraft into target orbit with a success rate of 97.67 percent, indication of increasing effectiveness and high-density launching capability of carrier rockets. The Long March 5 (CZ-5), China's newest generation of carrier rockets with a maximum carrying capacity, made its maiden flight, and increased the diameter of liquid fuel rocket from 3.35 m to 5 m, with a maximum payload capacity of about 25 tons to low earth orbit and about 14 tons to geostationary transfer orbit, significantly improving the carrying capacity of the Long March rocket family and becoming a symbol of the upgrading of China's carrier rockets. The development of the 120-ton liquid oxygen and kerosene engine was test fired, which powered Long March 6 and Long March 7 on their maiden flights. The Long March 11, a solid-fuel carrier rocket, also made a successful maiden launch, further enriching the Long March rocket family.
2. Man-made satellites
(1) Earth observation satellites. The function of the Fengyun (Wind and Cloud), Haiyang (Ocean), Ziyuan (Resources), Gaofen (High Resolution), Yaogan (Remote-Sensing) and Tianhui (Space Mapping) satellite series and constellation of small satellites for environment and disaster monitoring and forecasting has been improved. The Fengyun polar orbit meteorological satellite has succeeded in networking observation by morning and afternoon satellites, while its geostationary earth orbit (GEO) meteorological satellite has formed a business mode of "multi-satellites in orbit, coordinated operation, mutual backup and encryption at the appropriate time." The Haiyang-2 satellite is capable of all-weather, full-time and high-accuracy observation of marine dynamic parameters such as sea height, sea wave and sea surface wind. The Ziyuan-1 02C satellite was launched, the Ziyuan-3 01 and 02 stereo mapping satellites have achieved double star networking and operating. The China High-resolution Earth Observation System program has been fully implemented; the Gaofen-2 is capable of sub-meter optical remote-sensing observation, the Gaofen-3 has a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) imaging instrument that is accurate to one meter and the Gaofen-4 is China's first geosynchronous orbit high-resolution earth observation satellite. Satellite C of the environment and disaster monitoring and forecasting small satellite constellation has been put into use. The successful launching of the Kuaizhou-1 and Kuaizhou-2, which adopted integrated design of the satellite and the launch vehicle, has improved China's emergency response capability in space. The Jilin-1, a high-resolution remote-sensing satellite for commercial use has been launched and put into service.
(2) Communications and broadcasting satellites. China has comprehensively advanced the construction of fixed, mobile and data relay satellite systems. The successful launch of communications satellites such as Yatai and Zhongxing represented the completion of a fixed communications satellite support system whose communications services cover all of China's territory as well as major areas of the world. The Tiantong-1, China's first mobile communications satellite, has been successfully launched. The first-generation data relay satellite system composed of three Tianlian-1 satellites has been completed, and high-speed communication test of satellite-ground laser link has been crowned with success. In addition, the development of the DFH-5 super communications satellite platform is going smoothly.
(3) Navigation and positioning satellites. The Beidou Navigation Satellite System (Beidou-2) has been completed, with the networking of 14 Beidou navigation satellites, officially offering positioning, velocity measurement, timing, wide area difference and short-message communication service to customers in the Asia-Pacific region. Beidou's global satellite navigation system is undergoing smooth construction.
(4) New technological test satellites. China has launched the Shijian-9 satellite series for technological experiments, providing an important way to test new technologies.
3. Manned spaceflight
In June 2012 and June 2013, the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft were launched to dock with the target spacecraft Tiangong-1. They used manual and automatic operations respectively, symbolizing breakthroughs for China in spacecraft rendezvous and docking technology and full success in its first operation of a manned space transportation system. In September and October 2016 the Tiangong-2 space laboratory and Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft were launched and formed an assembly that operates steadily, with the mission of carrying out science and technology experiments in space, indicating that China has mastered technologies concerning astronauts' mid-term stay in orbit, and long-term ground mission support. Currently, China has mastered major space technologies such as manned space transportation, space extravehicular activity, space docking, operating in assembly and astronauts' mid-term stay in orbit.
4. Deep space exploration
In December 2012 the Chang'e-2 lunar probe made a successful observation trip over asteroid 4179 (Toutatis). In December 2013 the Chang'e-3 realized the first soft landing on the surface of an extraterrestrial body by a Chinese spacecraft and completed patrol and exploration on the surface of the moon. In November 2014 China achieved success in the reentry and return flight test of the third-phase lunar exploration engineering, indicating that China has mastered the key technology of spacecraft reentry and return flight in a speed close to second cosmic velocity.
The Lunar Exploration Program helped mankind to acquire a high-resolution map of the moon and a high-definition image of Sinus Iridum, and conducted research of lunar surface morphology, lunar structure, elemental composition of the lunar surface, lunar surface environment, lunar space environment and moon-based astronomical observation.
5. Space launch sites
In June 2016 the Wenchang Launch Site held its first launch, marking a new-generation launch site designed and built by China. The site is environmentally friendly and made breakthroughs in innovation. Renovations have also been accomplished in the Jiuquan, Taiyuan and Xichang launch sites, forming a launch site network covering both coastal and inland areas, high and low altitudes, and various trajectories to satisfy the launch needs of manned spaceships, space laboratory core modules, deep space probes and all kinds of satellites.
6. Space Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C)
The Tianlian-1 data relay satellite series have achieved global networking and operating. The Yuanwang-7, a spacecraft tracking ship has made its maiden voyage. Deep space TT&C stations have been built and put into use. China is constantly improving its space telemetry, tracking and command setups, and established a multi-functioning TT&C network featuring space, marine and ground integration with a proper scale. The flight control ability of spacecraft has been gradually improved, completing the TT&C missions of the Shenzhou spacecraft series, Tiangong-1 target spacecraft, Chang'e lunar probe series and earth orbit satellites.
7. Space applications
(1) Application of earth observation satellites. The ground system and applications of earth observation satellites are improving, the fields and levels in which these satellites are used are expanding and the application benefits are growing. The ground stations receiving data from land, ocean and meteorological observation satellites are operating based on comprehensive planning, a satellite data ground network with the capacity of receiving data from high- and low-orbit satellites and reasonable arrangement at home and abroad. China has also established, based on comprehensive planning, a ground data processing system for earth observation satellites, common application supporting platform, and multi-level network data distribution system, greatly increasing its ability in data processing, archiving, distribution, services provision and quantitative applications. Industrial application system building is in full swing, having completed 18 industrial and two regional application demonstration systems, and set up 26 provincial-level data and application centers. An integrated information service sharing platform for a high-resolution earth observation system has been built. Earth observation satellite data is now widely used in industrial, regional and public services for economic and social development.
(2) Application of communications and broadcasting satellites. The ground facilities such as TT&C station, gateway station, uplink station and calibration field of communications satellites have been improved. A satellite communications network and satellite radio and TV network of adequate scale to meet the needs of certain services have been built, further improving the communications service ability. These applications play an important role in radio and television services, distance education and telemedicine. The emergency satellite communications system has provided important support for the fight against flood and drought, for rescue and relief work, and for handling major emergencies.
(3) Application of navigation and positioning satellites. The Beidou Navigation Satellite System has significantly improved its accuracy and reliability, bringing into play an independent, controllable, complete and mature Beidou industrial chain and the three systems of Beidou industrial guarantee, application promotion and innovation. The Beidou Navigation System is widely used in transportation, maritime fisheries, hydrological monitoring, weather forecasting, surveying and mapping, forest fire prevention, time synchronization of communication, power dispatching, disaster reduction and relief and emergency rescue, influencing all aspects of people's life and production, and injecting new vitality into global economic and social development.
(4) Transformation and application of space technology. A new business model featuring the Internet plus satellite applications is coming into being, providing more convenient and high-quality services to the public. Secondary development, transformation and applications of space technology make possible the provision of high-quality products and services to relevant industries, and help to support and propel the development of new materials, intelligent manufacturing and electronic information, among others.
8. Space science
(1) Space science satellites. China has successfully launched the Dark Matter Particle Explorer, Shijian-10 and Quantum Science Experiment Satellite, offering important means for frontier scientific research.
(2) Space environment scientific experiments. China has carried out a series of space science experiments using space science satellites, Chang'e lunar probe, Shenzhou spacecraft series and Tiangong-1 target aircraft, deepening the understanding of the mechanism of biological growth and materials preparation under the conditions of space microgravity and intense radiation, and achieving some influential research findings.
(3) Space environment detection and forecast. China has identified the space environment's major parameters and effects using space science satellites and the Shenzhou spacecraft series to provide space environmental monitoring and forecasting services for the safe operation of spacecraft.
9. Space debris
China has improved the monitoring and mitigation of and early warning and protection against space debris. It has also enhanced standards and regulations in this regard. The monitoring of and early warning against space debris have been put into regular operation, ensuring the safe operation of spacecraft in orbit. China has also made breakthroughs in protection design technologies, applying them to the protection projects of spacecraft against space debris. In addition, all Long March carrier rockets have upper stage passivation, and discarded spacecraft are moved out of orbit to protect the space environment.