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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Chinese Long March-5 Booster to Make Maiden Flight in 2014 and to Later Carry the First Taikonauts to the Moon before 2022

China has made key technological progress in developing Long March-5 large-thrust carrier rocket and it is hopeful that the new generation rocket will make its maiden flight in 2014, a rocket scientist said Saturday, March 3, 2012, reports The China Times.

The Shanghai Daily says that Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, made remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee, which opened yesterday about the new Long March-5. According to Liang, the Long March-5 rocket will more than triple Chinese rockets' carrying capacity in the outer space, with a maximum low Earth-orbit payload capacity of 25 tonnes and geosynchronous orbit payload capacity of 14 tonnes.

The Long March 5's "carrying capacity factor" is 0.0146 while Boeing's Delta 4 Heavy is 0.0175, the world's largest, he said. When carrying the same load, a rocket with a higher factor needs less fuel, said Liang. 

Liang said "the rocket is currently China's best with the largest payload among the nation's rocket lineup" and was expected to deliver taikonauts onto the surface of the moon. He said last year the first launch of the Long March 5 is most likely to happen in Wenchang of the southernmost island province of Hainan, where a new satellite launch center is under construction, noted SatNews. Other boosters continue to be developed by the Chinese, including the Long March-7 expected to take flight in 2017, reports China Daily.

Taikonauts are popular in China.
The Long March-5 rocket is significantly larger than the CZ-2F carrier rockets that have carried six taikonauts to orbit in three orbital flights in recent years.  The Chinese are expected to conduct another three-member crew human space launch with the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft between June and August this year from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. The Shenzhou- 9 will dock with Tiangong-1 space lab module, according to Xinhua news.

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