Chinese Next Generation Rockets Will Launch This Year
Later this year, China will launch it's new heavy lift rocket, the Long March-5.
It's a big rocket.
According to Wang Jue, the head of the Long March-5 program, Chinese next generation rockets have a gross liftoff weight (GLOW) of 869 metric tonnes, and a payload capacity of 25 tonnes to low Earth orbit (LEO).
For getting all the way to a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO), the rocket is capable of delivering up to 14 metric tonnes.
For comparison, Ariane 5, Europe's mainstay heavy lift launch vehicle, can deliver 16 tonnes to LEO and about 7 tonnes to GTO.
According to Wang:
It can carry more than two and half times as much as our current launch vehicles. It is a marker of China's transformation from a major space player to a major space power.
Using non-toxic and pollution-free propellant, the 60-meter-long rocket measures five meters in diameter and will be equipped with four thrusters, each measuring 3.35 meters in diameter like previous Long March rockets.
Chinese next generation rockets will come in six variations and will be the main launch vehicles for both manned space flights as well as lunar and Martian exploration programs.
As Wang added:
The more our rockets can lift, the farther we can venture into space.
And China plans even bigger models for the future, as well as upgraded, smaller launch vehicles for missions requiring less power.
The Long March-7, a medium-sized rocket that can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, is also planned for an initial launch this year. It will transport cargo for the planned space station.
Together, Long March-5 and Long March-7 are expected to eventually replace the earlier Long March rockets to meet China's domestic and international launch needs.
Source: Xinhua News Agency