[FPSPACE] Construction begun on Long March 5 production facility

Allen Thomson thomsona at flash.net
Wed Oct 31 08:31:27 EST 2007


New carrier rocket series to be built
By Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-10-31 07:23

Tianjin - A week after the launch of the first lunar orbiter, the
government Tuesday announced the building of a new family of rocket
launchers and a launch center.

The Long March 5 carrier rockets will be made in the northern coastal
city of Tianjin while the new launch center will be located in the
southernmost province of Hainan.

[Picture caption] A groundbreaking ceremony of a new rocket-building
base is held in Tianjin October 30, 2007. [Xinhua]

The next-generation rockets will be able to carry up to 25 tons to
near-Earth orbits, up from the current 9 tons; and 14 tons to
geosynchronous orbits, up from 5 tons. The diameter will be increased
to 5 meters from 3.35 meters.

They are designed to launch space stations or heavyweight satellites,
which the current Long March 3-A rockets cannot handle.

"They are expected to meet the demands of space technology development
and peaceful use of space for the next 30 to 50 years," Wu Yansheng,
president of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said yesterday
at the groundbreaking ceremony of the base.

"It will also give China the same launch capabilities as developed
countries," Wu said, which means the nation can be as competitive in
the lucrative international commercial launch market.

Research and tests on key technologies of the new rockets have been
completed, the academy said in a statement.

Complementing the rocket-building base will be the new launch center at

Insiders said Tianjin was chosen because its location by the sea can
facilitate the maritime transportation of the new rockets - which are
too big to be transported by rail to any of the current three launch
centers in Gansu, Shanxi and Sichuan provinces - to Hainan.

The manufacturing base in Tianjin is expected to cost several billion
yuan but neither the academy nor the Tianjin municipal government would
reveal the exact amount.

As the launch center in Wenchang will not be ready until 2012, the new
generation rockets will not blast off before 2013. Earlier reports
suggested that the Chang'e II and III were likely to lift off atop the
new carrier rockets.

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