Planned launch of Long March 2D rocket with DAMPE satellite atop from Jiquan, China already on 17th December 2015. Mission is implemented under Strategic Pioneer Research Program in Space Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Chinese space program is still viewed with suspicion by Western Countries. With propaganda and military origins, at the present is more commercial oriented. Since 1985 commercial space program is growing, especially with still developing Long March rocket family. Increase of civilian sector contribution still not changes approach of West. Particularly USA concern Chinese space program as generally military oriented with possibility of transferring space technologies to unstable countries like North Korea or Iran. One of the signs of lack of trust to Chinese intentions was establishing by United States government embargo for space technologies in 2000 and official banning Chinese visitors from NASA facilities in 2011. Also NASA researchers are prohibited from working with any Chinese citizen affiliated with any state agency or company. Against the background of generally justified distrust of the Chinese space program applications it is worth to look closer at any civil and peaceful scientific program. Good example is DAMPE – first Chinese Cosmic Ray and Hard γ-ray Detector. It covers five research satellites designed by Chinese Academy of Sciences. First launch is planned on 17th December 2015. Main goal of the program is gathering information for scientific study on dark matter and nature of cosmic ray. DAMPE is orbital telescope for detecting high energy gamma-ray, electron and cosmic rays. Main instruments are Plastic Scintillator strip Detector (PSD), Silicon Tungsten tracker-converter (STK), BGO imaging calorimeter and a Neutron Detector called NUD (probably even names of these instruments exclude possibility that DAMPE could be useful for North Korea…). Instruments were tested and calibrated in CERN in 2012. After mechanical and simulated space environment trials they returned to CERN for final tests.
In this mission it is planned to utilize Long March 2D rocket. Since it’s maiden flight in 1992 it was used both for military and commercial purposes. It is reliable solution with 100% success rate (25/25). It is two stage rockets, liquid fueled. First stage is equipped with four YF-21C engines (fueled with highly toxic N2O4 and UDMH) with thrust at 2,961.6 kN. First stage length is at 27.91 m, diameter at 3.35 m and weight at 182000 kg. Second stage is powered by combined propulsion: one YF-22C as main engine and four YF-23C for stabilization. Thrust of YF-22C is at 742.04 kN and stabilizing thrust at 47.1 kN. Stage is long for 10.9 m with diameter at 3.35 m and weight at 52700 kg. Rocket offers SSO payload at 1300 kg and for LEO missions 3500 kg.