China’s ‘Dragon’ Series Carrier Rockets Are Coming

The “Dragon” series is another series of launch vehicles launched by the Aerospace Science and Technology Group following the “Long March” series. At present, the “Dragon” series products are planned to be two series of “Jielong” solid rocket series and “Tenglong” liquid carrier rocket series.

The “Jielong” series includes “Jielong” No.1, “Jielong” No.2, “Jielong” No.3 three-type solid carrier rocket, and “Jerlong” sub-orbital carrier. The “Jielong” series features “high cost performance, high reliability, fast performance, and fast launch”. The first model in the series, “Jielong” No.1, was successfully launched on August 17, 2019.

The “Tenglong” series of liquid launching rockets currently planned by the “Tenglong” No. 1 is a medium-sized launch vehicle with non-toxic and non-polluting liquid propellant. The 500km sun-synchronous orbiting capacity can reach 3 tons, and the core design can be reused in the future. It mainly undertakes the launch service of the constellation network.

The “Dragon” series of launch vehicles can meet the launching needs of most commercial satellites at home and abroad, and can also provide space launch services such as integrated in-orbit delivery and marine launch for different launch requirements.

The “Dragon” series of launch vehicles released this time has an important feature, which is mainly for commercial space launches. For the “space national team” that undertakes almost all major space launch missions in the country, to create a new type of commercial rocket series, it is necessary to respond to the needs and challenges of commercial aerospace through technological innovation and institutional innovation in a comprehensive market-oriented operation.

The Long March series of rockets have undertaken almost all major space launch missions. Safety and reliability are the primary tasks of the Long March series of rockets. However, for commercial space launches with huge demand, factors such as high cost performance and short preparation period are particularly important. For the space shuttle team, bold innovation is the most prominent feature of the “Dragon” series of launch vehicles in the development process.

The commercialization model was adopted to open up the market and allow more private supporting enterprises to participate, which greatly accelerated the pace of development of commercial rockets. It took less than 18 months from the start of development to the first flight, and it was one of the shortest rockets in China. Project development funding is only 1/6 of the normal model. Through the allocation of social resources, the products with the best price and the best performance are selected, which not only controls the cost, shortens the development cycle, but also ensures the reliability of the rocket.

China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, as a Chinese national aerospace “national team” with mature technology, why should we enter the commercial aerospace field? For China’s current commercial aerospace, what changes and impact will this dragon’s admission bring?

The data shows that in recent years, the global aerospace industry has grown at a rate of 6-7% per year. In 2018, the global aerospace industry has a total output value of nearly 400 billion US dollars, of which commercial aerospace revenue accounts for about 80% of the total. According to estimates, in the next decade, China’s commercial aerospace market will have a scale of 800 billion yuan.

There is a huge demand in the commercial aerospace market. There are many kinds of spacecraft such as remote sensing satellites, communication satellites, and scientific detectors. The launching requirements are also different. It is not just which type of rocket can be “taken all”. The “Aerospace National Team” to build the “Dragon” series of rockets into commercial aerospace is to change the traditional mode of “national launch mission”, and the technical support of the “national team” plus the input of social capital will form a synergy. The commercial space launch market provides strong support.

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