Chinese rocket engine test a big step for space station project

  • Pakfa

    Posts: 6

    Jul 21, 2013 7:10 PM GMT
    China has successfully test-fired the rocket engine that will power the next-generation heavy-lift booster, the Long March 5, that will help drive the country's space exploration into the final frontier.

    The new rocket engine is closely tied to China's planned space station, and is a big step forward for the country's moon exploration program. The first engine test, carried out on June 29, lasted roughly three minutes from ignition to shutdown, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office.
    The Long March 5 is one of China's new generation of rockets, which feature larger carrying capacities and are being pursued during a 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015). Addition to the Long March 5, China is drawing up plans for a medium-size Long March 7. [See photos of China's planned space station]

    "The rockets in service cannot meet the demand from a future manned space station," Yuan Jie, deputy general manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), told the state-run Xinhua news agency in June. "We need rockets with even larger carrying capacities."

    Space station plans
    The Long March 5 rocket will be mainly used for the lofting of China's manned space station, Yuan said, adding that it has the capacity to carry a 20-ton (18 metric tons) payload to near-Earth orbit.

    This still from China's state-run media shows the test of China's Long March 5 rocket engine on June 29, 2013. The new rocket will launch from China's Hainan Island launch complex and be used to help build a new space station in orbit.
    China's planned Long March 7 booster can place 13 tons (12 metric tons) into Earth orbit, and is designed to launch cargo spacecraft to the country's manned space station, Yuan said.

    Wang Zhaoyao, director of China's manned space program office, said the plan envisions placing a new Tiangong 2 space laboratory in orbit by 2015, ostensibly to further sharpen the skills and technologies needed to build a larger space station.

    China would then launch an experimental core module of the larger space station in 2018. By 2020, China's manned space station would be fully built, Wang told reporters at a news conference following the landing of Shenzhou 10, China's recent piloted space mission, on June 25.

    Smooth progress
    The Long March 5 and Long March 7 boosters — each slated to fly before the end of 2015 — will launch from China's Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, which is currently under construction near Wenchang on the northeastern coast of Hainan Island.

    CASC's Yuan said the next-generation launchers employ innovative technologies, including new engines that use nontoxic and nonpolluting liquid fuel.

    Wang said "smooth progress" has been made in building up China's new launch center since the start of site work in September 2009. Its main structure has been completed, he said, including the testing labs for carrier rockets and spacecraft.
    It is the fourth space launch facility in China, after Jiuquan, Taiyuan and Xichang launch complexes.
    Very ambitious space program, would be exciting to see if China's alies would be a part of this.
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    Jul 22, 2013 1:58 AM GMT
    That is exciting. They may even get to Mars before we do! I think it's good for many different countries to have a presence in space.