At 0:28 a.m. BJ time on Sunday, China lifted into space a Long March 3B carrier rocket to place a communications satellite into a geostationary orbit, marking the 300th launch in the Long March family.
The mission was announced as a success about one hour after liftoff as the satellite’s solar arrays unfolded in orbit.
China launched its first carrier rocket – a Long March 1 that was a de facto modified ballistic missile – in April 1970 to send its first satellite, Dongfanghong 1, or East Red 1, into space.
Since then, the country has developed and built 17 types of Long March rockets; five of them have been retired. The Long March family has comprised nearly 97 percent of the nation’s total launch missions.
It took 37 years for the Long March rockets to complete the first 100 launches, 7.5 years to complete the second 100 launches, and only about four years to accomplish the final 100, with the average number of launches per year increasing from 2.7 to 13.3 and then to 23.5.
So far, the Long March rockets family has ferried 506 Chinese and foreign spacecraft into space, including six manned spaceships, two space laboratories and four lunar probes.
There were 37 successful launches via Long March carrier rockets in 2018, ranking first in the world space industry.
This year, more members of the Long March family will show up in the space, responsible for the major launch missions.