Long March 9 - 2016 Iteration
On April 14, 2016, in the lectures of Academician Long Lehao, three different configurations of heavy-duty rockets were described. The three configurations are modular, serialized, and universally designed. This configuration was again mentioned in the paper in the October 2016 issue of the Journal of Deep Space Exploration, in which the diameter of the booster was expanded to 5 meters, and two sets of 480-ton liquid-oxygen kerosene engines were used. The total mass was 4000 tons, the takeoff thrust was nearly 6,000 tons, and the low earth orbit carrying capacity was about 140 tons.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology opened preliminary research on a super-heavy rocket that would have a takeoff weight of 3,000 tons and can transport a 140-ton payload into low Earth orbit. If research and development go well, as of early 2017 it was projected that the super-heavy rocket would carry out its first flight around 2030, allowing China to land astronauts on the moon, and to send and retrieve Mars probes, designers at the academy said.
China's heavy-lift carrier rocket will be sent into space by 2030, according to the Science and Technology Committee of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, reported 14 February 2018. The Long March-9 rocket's carrying capacity will exceed 100 tonnes and its diameter would reach around 10 meters. "We will step up our efforts in the research and development of heavy-lift carrier rockets so as to send them into space at an earlier date," said Huang Chunping, an aerospace expert.
Li Hong, president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said scientists are designing two heavy-lift engines combining LOX with other fuels - kerosene in one and liquid hydrogen in the other - along with a large-diameter fuel tank. "Research and development will be finished within two to three years, and they will be used on our new heavy-duty rocket," Li said on 03 March 2018.
The academy, a division of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, was the largest developer of carrier rockets in China. Li was a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which opens its annual session on Saturday in Beijing. According to Li, the new-generation rocket would have a diameter of about 10 meters, a length of nearly 100 m, and a carrying capacity as much as five times that of the current Long March 5.
China was expected to complete construction and fitting work on a prototype of its 500-ton liquid rocket engine within the year, Chinese experts said 06 March 2018. China was currently tackling problems on key technologies of three types of liquid rocket engines for its heavy-lift rockets: the 500-ton engine fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, 200-ton and 25-ton engines using liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel. The country has also completed thermal tests on core modules together with some sub-models for the engines.
Liu Zhirang, head of the No.6 Research Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), who was also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, made the remarks China's Science and Technology Daily reported 06 March 2018.
The three types of engines would be applied as different stages of thrusters for the country's heavy-lift launch vehicle and their performance was designed to reach world-leading levels, Liu said, adding it was expected that the assembly and fitting work for the engineering sample of the 500-ton engine would be completed within the year.
From the prototype to the final delivery of the engine, it would normally take at least five years, which was in keeping with the China's Long March-9 launch schedule, Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on 06 March 2018. To move from the 120-ton engine to a 500-ton one was not simply an enlargement, but requires overcoming exponential growth in technological difficulties. For example, as the thrust power increases, new significant challenges surface such as issues related to its physical design, thermal resistance and conductive technologies, among others, Liu noted.
The capacity of Chinese rockets would reach 140 tons for low-Earth orbit, 44 tons for Earth-Mars transfer orbit, 50 tons for Earth-Moon transfer orbit and 66 tons for geosynchronous transfer orbit in 2030, said Long Lehao, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a chief designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, when delivering a speech in Tsinghua University 02 July 2018.
One of the new generation rockets would be the heavy-lift Long March-9. The rocket would have a core stage with a diameter of 10 meters, and four boosters with a diameter up to 5 meters. The takeoff weight of the 93-meter-high Long March-9 would exceed 4,000 tons, and its takeoff thrust would be close to 6,000 tons. The rocket would be able to carry a payload of 140 tons into low-Earth orbit, Long said. The Long March-9 would have two variants: one with two boosters and the other one with no booster. Some breakthroughs had been achieved on the technologies of the Long March-9.
It could be used in manned lunar landings, deep space exploration and constructing a space-based solar power plant, Long said.
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