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People's Daily Online>>Science

Rocket research boosts China's lunar mission

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

08:42, March 05, 2012

New heavy-duty launch carrier will help China put men on the moon

BEIJING - Scientists have finished preliminary research into a heavy-thrust carrier rocket that could help China send men to the moon and fly to deep space in the future, said Liang Xiaohong, vice-president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.

"If approved (by the government), the heavy-thrust carrier rocket will be able to meet the demands of any proposed Chinese mission in space," said Liang, who is also a member of the National Committee of the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

After about two years of research and argument, scientists agreed that China's future heavy-lift carrier rocket should have a lift-off thrust of 3,000 metric tons and be able to send a payload of 100 metric tons into the low-Earth orbit. Liang declined to give more details.

The behemoth launcher will be much more powerful than China's current largest launcher, Long March 5, which is designed with a lift-off thrust of 1,000 metric tons that enables it to send a maximum payload of 25 metric tons to the low-Earth orbit and a payload of 10 tons to the higher geo-stationary orbit.

"China lagged more than 10 years behind the United States, Russia and Europe in the development of large-thrust launchers, and should not repeat the mistake in heavy-thrust launchers," he said.

The academy proposed in 1986 to develop a large-thrust launcher, but it was not approved until 2006.

Now, major space powers are pulling their resources together to develop new heavy-thrust rockets.

According to media reports, NASA in September unveiled the design of a new rocket that could lift up to 130 metric tons. Its retired Saturn V rocket that powered the Apollo moon exploration program could lift 120 metric tons.

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