China is building a new rocket to fly its astronauts to the moon

China has revealed that it is working on a new rocket that can send astronauts to land on the moon.

The newly launched vehicle was unveiled on September 18 at the 2020 China Space Conference in Fuzhou, eastern China. The new launcher is designed to send a 27.6-ton spacecraft into trans-lunar injection. The weight of the weighting will be around 4.85 million pounds, nearly three times that of China’s current largest rocket, the Long March 5.

Specifically, the new rocket will have three, 16.4-foot-diameter cores in the same style as the two American rockets: Delta IV Heavy of United Launch Alliance and Falcon Heavy of SpaceX.

With a three-stage central core, the as-yet unnamed rocket will be 285 feet long and is being designed at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) in Beijing.

Related: Latest news about China’s space program

Zhou Yanfei, deputy general designer of China’s human defense program, told Chinese media, “The world is seeing a new wave of lunar exploration, crew or unused. International cooperation projects in lunar exploration of the crew are interlinked. Connected and influencing each other. ”

China has not yet announced a test flight or a possible lunar landing date with the vehicle. However, Zhou said that there are several challenges in terms of the lunar landing of the crew.

“For example, we need our spacecraft to have the ability to reach and return to the moon. But the transport capacity of our Long March rocket may not meet the demands. Our Shenzhen spacecraft currently in low Earth orbit Are unable to meet the lunar landing needs. “, In addition, we need a lander for the mission,” said Zhou.

In May, China flew the next generation crew spacecraft with a test launch of the new Long March 5B rocket. The new capsule is designed for deep space and lunar missions.

China has not officially approved a program to place astronauts on the moon, but is openly talking about such missions. Previous mission profiles included a Long March 9 rocket expected to be similar in size to NASA’s Saturn V or the agency’s developing Space Launch System (SLS). The rocket, about 33 feet in diameter, will require new rocket body-technology and huge, high-thrust engines and will make a test flight around 2030.

Superseeding Long March 9 with the new launcher, which first appeared as a concept in 2018, as the preferred method of acquiring the moon meant that China could get there early.

The new launcher will use previously developed YF-100K engines and clusters of 16.4-foot-diameter rocket bodies similar to the Long March 5, meaning less development work and required breakthroughs.

The vehicle has not been formally named, but is named ‘921 Rocket’ in China, in reference to the codename of the country’s manned spacecraft program, which was established on September 21, 1992.

In its human spaceflight program, China still faces significant challenges. China will begin launching modules for its space station next year, but looking ahead will face new hurdles. Zhou said that China “lacks the ability to survive under supernatural conditions. We don’t have any experience with it yet. Nor do we have the ground support capability. So far our crew’s space exploration missions are less earthbound.” Focused on tasks in the classroom. ”

China is also working on a series of new rockets to update its older models that use toxic hypergolic propellants. In addition, the country is looking to implement new capabilities, which may include rockets that can relaunch and land, such as SpaceX Falcon 9. An emerging commercial sector also includes companies such as iSpace and Landspace, which launch Are developing their own vehicles to compete for. Contracts.

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