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Yuan Wang 21 - new generation launch vehicle carrier ship

There are two ships of this type, namely "Yuanwang 21" and "Yuanwang 22". As with the other Yuan Wang vessels [1 through 7, they are operated by the China Satellite Maritime Monitoring and Control Department in Shanghai, but otherwise are different classes, with different designs and unrelated missions, hence the discontinous numbering sequence of 21 and 22.

The main task of the rocket transport ship is to pass the rocket developed inland to the launching point on the sea. The main domestic transportation is to transport large-scale polar orbiting satellites, deep space exploration satellites and large-tonnage space station launch vehicles to the Hainan Wenchang launching base. The Yuanwang rocket transport ship has the conditions for installing lifting equipment, and can install two 120-ton cranes at the same time, which is suitable for full-size hoisting or segmented hoisting of rockets.

Since Hainan Wenchang has a rocket launch site, it can use the geographical advantage of the low latitude of the site to increase the initial velocity of the rocket launch and effectively increase the load; meanwhile, the rocket flies at sea most of the time after launch, which has a greater impact on the life of the land residents. However, because China's launch vehicle is produced and assembled on land, a special rocket carrier is required to transport the assembled rocket or rocket segment through the sea, and the "Yuanwang 21" ship is responsible for this arduous task.

In the late 20th Century, American rocket stages were transported thousands of miles and experienced hundreds of hours of constant vibration. There was always the possibility of damage to welded joints and seals, as well as to delicate components that were manufactured to very high tolerances. On arrival at Cape Kennedy, additional checkout tests frequently exposed a problem that could be traced to the transportation sequence. The logistics of rocket stages were not to be taken lightly.

As early as 1959, designers began to study the problems of transporting boosters from the manufacturing area to the test stands and the problem of the long journey from Huntsville to the Atlantic Missile Test Range in Florida. Early proposals considered using existing transporters devised for Redstone and Jupiter missiles, but this equipment proved to be too small.

By December 1959, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) gave the go-ahead to the Army Ordnance Missile Command (AOMC) to construct the docks and to begin designs for a barge to carry the oversize boosters to the launch site at Cape Canaveral. NASA used many barges to transport large spacecraft components from their respective manufacturing sites to Kennedy. Other NASA barges including Orion, Poseidon, Little Lake, Palaemon, Pearl River, Promise and USNS Point Barrow were used to tow Saturn vehicle components between Marshall, Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF), California and Stennis Research Center to Kennedy in Florida.

Two roll-on/roll-off (RO/RO) ships used to transport the Soyuz, Ariane 5 and Vega members of Arianespace’s launcher family from Europe to the company’s South America operating base. MN Toucan and MN Colibri are the two specialised freighters that carry parts of the Ariane-5 launcher – take 12 days to ship their cargo from Europe to the port of Kourou in French Guiana. Their large enclosed RO/RO main deck, along with the external storage area on its upper deck, enable two complete Soyuz vehicles to be carried on transatlantic voyages from St. Petersburg, Russia to Kourou. The MN Colibri is the primary vessel used by Compagnie Maritime Nantaise – MN for launcher transportation duties on behalf of Arianespace, with the MN Toucan sister ship also available.

The MN Toucan and MN Colibri are designed with sufficient draft to ensure stability while crossing the Atlantic, but also shallow enough to navigate in the estuary of the Kourou river. MN Colibri is the latest-built of the two, and incorporates certain updates based on the MN Toucan’s operating experience for Arianespace, including the capability of stacking containers up to three high on the exterior upper deck.

The transport ship carrying out this rocket transport mission is the first special-purpose rocket transport ship in China. It is an important part of China's new generation launch vehicle launch project. It can undertake Long March 5, Long March 7 and include space stations and cargo ships. Maritime transport mission for a new generation of spacecraft. The Long March V rocket is a new generation of heavy-duty launch vehicle independently developed by China and will be launched from the Hainan Wenchang Space Launch Site.

On May 6, 2013, the first new-generation launch vehicle carrier “Yuanwang 21” designed by China Southern Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Ltd. and built by Jiangnan Shipyard for the China Satellite Maritime Monitoring and Control Department left the terminal, marking the addition of new members to the “Yuanwang” series of ships. The ship is full of 9,080 tons, designed to be 130 meters long, 19 meters wide, 12 meters deep, and draught about 5.8 meters. It is responsible for the new large rocket transportation mission. On June 28th, “Yuanwang 22” was delivered. So the construction of two rocket carriers undertaken by Jiangnan Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. was completed.

On May 14th, after 6 days and nights of 1670 nautical miles, the rocket carrier designed by the Civilian Shipbuilding Department of the 7th Research Institute of China National Shipbuilding Corporation and Jiangnan Shipbuilding (Group) Co., Ltd. successfully arrived in Wenchang, Hainan, and will be carried for the first time. The new generation of medium-sized launch vehicle Long March 7 arrived at the space launch site. This marks the successful completion of the first official mission of the rocket carrier.

On August 22, 2016, with the last Long March 5 carrier rocket container hoisted on board, Yuan Wang 21 ship all rocket products and related equipment container hoisting completed. The 40 containers of the Long March 5 rocket product, transportation support and measuring equipment to be transported will be loaded into two parts by the Yuanwang 21 and 22 ships. The two cranes on the Yuanwang rocket transport ship are hoisted at the same time with the two arms, and cooperate with the pressure regulating load system to make the whole lifting work accurate.

The Yuanwang rocket transport ship is also designed and installed with a complete set of marine environmental protection system and anti-rolling and damping equipment, so that the measured values of temperature, humidity, salinity and rocket container overload environment data in the rocket cargo space are better than railway and road transportation. It can be said that the Yuanwang rocket transport ship is an advanced rocket special transport ship with high information and high technology content.

Because the launch vehicle's requirements for ambient temperature, humidity, salinity, and overload acceleration are extremely demanding, slightly uncomfortable environmental conditions or excessive overload may cause fatal damage to the rocket and even endanger the entire rocket launch mission. To this end, the project team has innovated and designed a complete set of launch vehicle marine environmental protection measures and rocket container vibration reduction and vibration reduction methods, successfully maintaining the appropriate temperature and humidity and salt spray in the rocket cargo space, during the rocket shipping process and lifting In the process, the overload acceleration of the rocket container completely meets the design requirements through various means. After actual measurement, the overload environment data of the rocket in the container is only one-third of the railway transportation overload environment data and one-half of the road transportation, which is far superior to other transportation modes.

Yuanwang 21 29 Nov
06 May
Yuanwang 21 28 Jun

designer CSSC-No.708 Research and Development Institute
builder Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co.,Ltd
Displacement, full9,080 tons
length 130 meters
beam 19 meters
depth 12 meters
draft 5.8 meters

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Page last modified: 09-09-2019 18:42:44 ZULU