A Long March 3B/YZ-1 (CZ-3B/YZ-1) rocket was successfully launched from the Xichang launch site at 2352 GMT on 24 August 2018. The launch carried two Beidou navigation satellites, Beidou-3 M11-S and Beidou-3 M12-S, into a 55 degree inclined Medium Earth Orbit 21,000 km above the Earth. This was the 23rd launch by China this year, beating the 22-launch Chinese record set in 2017. China is the leading nation for launch numbers so far this year, one ahead of the USA, and has several more launches planned. It my well take the 2018 “prize” for the most launches by a nation.

Record breaker: Long March 3B carrying two Beidou satellites is launched on 24 August 2018. Courtesy: Xinhua (with permission)


Comment by David Todd: This news is indicative of the power that China now has in space. While the USA frets about Russian spacecraft causing mischief, it is really China that it should be worrying about. China’s commercial launch programme was effectively blocked in the 1990s by the US Department of Defense effectively banning launches of US satellite components because of concerns that US and other Western satellite launching experts had helped not only its launch effort but also its missile effort. This move by now looks counterproductive since it forced China to rely on its own resources – and it is doing a very good job. As Seradata’s analysis of the “Great Space Race” in human spaceflight has found, China is now favourite to win the human return-to-the-Moon race, overtaking Russia, and is now second to the USA for Mars. The space future could be Chinese…Xie Xie (thank you) very much.