China Launches Space Debris Mitigation Technology Satellite

Space Debris Refer To The Waste Left In Space From Human Activities, And Also Known As The Space Junk

China successfully launched Shijian-21 satellite into preset orbit via a Long March-3B carrier rocket from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Sunday morning, which marked the 39th space launch of China space [including private sector] in 2021, tying with historical record of 39 launches set in 2018 and 2020. The Shijian-21 satellite is tasked to verify space debris mitigation technology, the Global Times learned from space authorities. The Sunday mission marked the 393rd flight of the Long March carrier rocket family. The satellite was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology. Meanwhile, sources with the academy declined to reveal further details of the spacecraft.

“The Long March-3B carrier rocket has made three technological improvements for the Sunday launch, including cancelling pressure test on the third stage tank, which further optimized the pre-launch preparation and enhanced the reliability of the type,” said Zhang Tao, a deputy chief designer with the Long March-3B carrier rocket developer China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), in a statement that the CALT provided to the Global Times on Sunday. The Sunday mission also marked the 39th space launch mission for China in 2021 [including two failures by private rocket firm iSpace and a successful one by the Kuaizhou-1A rocket developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp], having caught up with the record number set in 2020 and 2018.  According to the CALT, the Long March-3B carrier rocket is expected to conduct three more launches before January 1, 2022. Space observers reached by the Global Times expressed their confidence that the total number of space launches for China this year is progressing steadily toward to the 40-plus goal set at the beginning of this year.

As the centerpiece of the busy space launch year of 2021, five missions scheduled for the construction of China Space Station, including two manned spaceflight missions of Shenzhou-12 and Shenzhou-13, have been successfully delivered with a perfect success rate.  China National Space Administration established its Space Debris Monitoring and Application Center in June 2015, which has served as a responsible body for tracking waste, analyzing hazards, developing prevention and disposal plans, setting up a database and communicating with other nations and international organizations. Space debris refer to the waste left in space from human activities, and also known as the “space junk,” including defunct artificial objects such as spent rocket stages and old satellites to fragments from disintegration, erosion and collisions.

The average clash speed of some thousand tons of existing space debris reached 10 kilometers per second, and any of them with the size larger than 1 centimeter could completely destroy spacecraft and even those with smaller size at millimeter and nanometer level could also affect the performance of spacecraft or paralyze them, according to the administration. In June this year, the International Space Station was hit by a fast-moving space junk but did not cause too much damage, according to media reports. Space junk hurtling towards the station smashed into one of its robotic arms leaving a hole. China Manned Space Agency urged on October 15 right before sending the second batch of taikonauts to the Tianhe space station core module for a record six-month stay, that relevant foreign space agencies and organizations are urged to pay attention to the data on the Chinese spacecraft that kept updated on the website of the agency to avoid possible collisions and ensure the safety of Chinese taikonauts.

This news was originally published at Global Times

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