BEIJING, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- For China's space sector, 2022 was a year of substantial progress and remarkable new records.
China completed more than 60 space launches this year, a record high. Among these missions, 53 were conducted by the Long March carrier rockets, the country's backbone launch vehicles.
The proportion of launches using new-generation rockets has increased, reaching a three-year high of 27 percent in 2022, said Long Lehao, a senior Long March rocket advisor.
Successful missions included the deployment of a record-breaking 22 satellites into space by a Long March-8 rocket, the debut flight of a Long March-6 rocket with solid strap-on boosters, and the launch of reusable test spacecraft by a Long March-2F rocket. These missions have laid a technological foundation for the peaceful use of space.
But the most high-profile rocket launches this year were related to the construction of the Chinese space station, with two manned spaceships, two cargo craft and two 20-tonne-level lab modules sent into orbit.
The launch of the Mengtian lab module was challenging as it weighs 23 tonnes, making it the world's heaviest single-cabin active spacecraft in orbit.
China has also made advances in its manned space program. A total of nine taikonauts on three missions -- Shenzhou-13, Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 -- participated in the construction of the space station this year. The country also carried out its first in-orbit crew rotation, with six Chinese citizens aboard China's space station at the same time.
Chen Dong became the first taikonaut to remain in orbit for more than 200 days. Before returning to Earth on Dec. 4, he led the Shenzhou-14 crew to complete multiple tasks, including three spacewalks, a series of scientific experiments, a live science lecture and several in-orbit operations. The trio has been called "the busiest space crew" by Chinese netizens.
This year also witnessed the debut of several commercial Chinese rockets as they deployed satellites into space.
China will continue its intensive space launch schedule into next year. More Long March rockets will be tasked with missions for the operational phase of China space station. New-generation rockets are also expected to be unveiled, according to Long.