Chinese Space Activities in 2012
2012 was another highly productive year for the Chinese space programme. A total of 19 launches were conducted, sending 28 spacecraft into orbit, with a success rate of 100%. The highlight of the year was no doubt the Shenzhou 9 human space flight mission, which saw three Chinese astronauts, including the country’s first female astronaut, visiting the Tiangong 1 space laboratory in low Earth orbit and spending 10 days onboard the station.
High-intensity launches for the Beidou Navigation Satellite System continued throughout this year, with two geostationary satellites and four medium Earth orbit satellites being placed into orbit. This has increased the total number of satellites in orbit to 16 (of which 14 are operational). The system became operational in late 2011 and officially began to offer regional navigation and positioning services (up to 10 metres accuracy) for users in the Asia-Pacific region on 27 December 2012.
A wide range of applications satellites for civilian and commercial users were launched this year. They included a remote-sensing satellite (Ziyuan 3), a meteorological satellite (Fengyun 2F), two scientific research satellites (Shijian 9A/B), a radar Earth observation satellite (Huanjing 1C), and two telecommunications satellites (APStar 7, ChinaSat 12).
Satellites for military purposes launched in 2012 included a survey and mapping satellite (Tianhui 1-02), five reconnaissance satellites (Yaogan 14, 15 and 16A/B/C), a communications satellite (ChinaSat 2A), and a data relay satellite (Tianlian 1-03).
In this year China also launched two satellites for foreign customers. These included a Chinese-made remote-sensing satellite VRSS-1 for Venezuela and a Turkish remote-sensing satellite GÖKTÜRK-2.
In this year, China had also made significant progress in the development of its next-generation Changzheng launch vehicle families. Construction of a new satellite launch centre in the southern Hainan Province was well underway, with the first launch expected in 2014.
In December, the Chang'e 2 lunar probe flew by a small Near Earth Asteroid 4179 Toutatis at about 7 million kilometres away from the Earth, the longest distance a Chinese spacecraft had ever travelled.
|#||# of yr.||Date||Payload||Role||Orbit||Launch
|171||6||2012-05-06||Tianhui 1-02||Survey and mapping||SSO||CZ-2D||Jiuquan||SLS2||Success|
|173||8||2012-05-26||ChinaSat 2A||Military communications||GEO||CZ-3B||Xichang||LC2||Success|
|175||10||2012-06-16||Shenzhou 9||Human space flight||LEO||CZ-2F||Jiuquan||SLS1||Success|
|176||11||2012-07-25||Tianlian 1-03||Data relay||GEO||CZ-3C||Xichang||LC2||Success|
Space Launch League Table 2012
Statistics (Launch Site)
Statistics (Launch Vehicle)
Last updated: 30 December 2012