China’s new plant will be able to produce 50 Long March 8 rockets a year

No other existing facility can manufacture rockets at that rate.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Long March 8 launch.jpg
Long March 8 launch.


China is constructing an assembly plant capable of producing 50 Long March 8 rockets a year that will be completed in 2024.

This is according to an article by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) published on Thursday.

The factory is located on the tropical island of Hainan and will nearly double China’s annual launch capacity, ensuring that no other existing facility can manufacture rockets at that rate.

The Long March 8 can carry more than 20 Starlink-sized communication satellites, and China intends to use the vehicle to send more than 1,000 satellites into space every year.

Perhaps more impressive is the fact that the new rocket is also designed to put satellites in a higher orbit than the current Starlink satellites allowing Chinese satellites to monitor American ones.

China currently has more than 4,000 satellites in orbit and plans to launch 13,000 more to keep up with Starlink in a project code-named “GW.” 

Too small or too big

However, the nation’s existing Long March rockets are either too small or too big.

That’s where the Long March 8, which is just the right size, comes in.

It “can meet more than 90 percent of China’s follow-up launch mission requirements for medium- and low-Earth orbits”, said Song Zhengyu, a senior rocket scientist with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), who is leading the Long March 8 team, in a paper published in the Chinese Journal of Astronautics last month.

And it plans to do so better and cheaper! Currently, it costs about US$3,000 to put 1kg (2.2 pounds) of cargo into low-Earth orbit (LEO), according to a recent report by researchers at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation acquired by SCMP.

Song’s team claims they had found never-before-used methods to significantly reduce the costs of the Long March 8. One of these is the removal of modal testing.

The Long March 8 holds the distinct title of being the first rocket in the world to successfully fly without the need for full-scale modal testing. Instead, its makers made use of simulations to obtain dynamic parameters that allowed for successful launches.

This meant “the development cycle was shortened by 12 months, and a large amount of test funds were saved”, the team said in the paper, according to SCMP.

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