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Old 11-04-2016, 07:20 AM
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Default Long March 5; Chinese Launch Big Rocket

The profile (side tanks) looks quite similar to a Russian Rocket, image below

China launches Long March 5, one of the world’s most powerful rockets


China’s heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket fired into space on a successful inaugural flight Thursday, debuting a brand new launcher that can carry twice the payload of any other Chinese booster and setting a keystone for the country’s ambitions for a space station and interplanetary exploration.
The maiden test flight gives China a rocket that nearly identically matches the capability of the world’s current space lift leader, United Launch Alliance’s Delta 4-Heavy rocket, and exceeds the performance of other heavy-lifters like Europe’s Ariane 5 and Russia’s Proton launcher.
The Long March 5 rocket, the product of two decades of research and at least nine years of construction, fabrication and testing, is a centerpiece of China’s plans to assemble a permanently-crewed space station in orbit and send robotic missions to the moon and Mars.
The powerful launcher, driven by 10 engines on its first stage and strap-on boosters, took off at 1243 GMT (8:43 a.m. EDT; 8:43 p.m. Beijing time) Thursday from the Wenchang space center on Hainan Island off the southern coast of the Chinese mainland.

The YF-100 engine flown on the Long March 5’s strap-on boosters is a more powerful model of Russia’s RD-120 rocket engine, and it consumes a mixture of rocket-grade kerosene and liquid oxygen. The YF-100 engine can produce up to 270,000 pounds of thrust at sea level.
China acquired several RD-120 engines from Russia in the 1990s, and the YF-100 engine operates with oxygen-rich staged combustion, a closed propulsion cycle that minimizes propellant waste, resulting in a more efficient, but more complex, propulsion system. Most experts acknowledge Russia is the world leader in such propulsion technology.
Two YF-100 engines are fixed to the base of each Long March 5 booster, but the engine type already launched on China’s Long March 6 and Long March 7 rockets on their inaugural flights.
Thursday’s launch was the second spaceflight to blast off from the new Wenchang launch center, a seaside facility completed in 2014 to primarily serve as a base for the Chinese space program’s civilian missions. The tropical spaceport on Hainan Island is closer to the equator than China’s other launch facilities, giving rockets an extra boost in speed from Earth’s spin, and it allows launchers to drop their boosters in the ocean instead of on land.
Chinese engineers have studied a heavy-lift booster since the 1990s, and China officially announced plans to develop the Long March 5 in early 2001. Full-scale development of the new YF-77 engine began in 2002.
After winning government approval for the project, China broke ground on a new rocket factory for the Long March 5 and Long March 7 in the port city of Tianjin in 2007, when officials hoped to launch the Long March 5 for the first time in 2013.
The maiden flight slipped to 2014, then 2015, before winding up in late 2016.
One of the challenges faced by machinists and engineers was the fabrication of the Long March 5’s large tanks, requiring new tools and techniques to master the precision needed to weld and assemble the rocket’s 16-foot-diameter (5-meter) core, according to state media reports.
The diameter of the Long March 5’s main stage is 50 percent wider than China’s other rockets. Engineers needed to widen the rocket tanks to accommodate a larger load of hydrogen fuel.
China has at least two basic variants of the Long March 5 on the drawing board.
The version selected for Thursday’s maiden test flight has a second stage for geostationary and interplanetary missions. China says it is capable of delivering a payload of up to 14 metric tons, or nearly 31,000 pounds, to geostationary transfer orbit, nearly identically matching the lift capability of ULA’s Delta 4-Heavy and exceeding that of the European Ariane 5 rocket.
A shorter configuration without the second stage, named the Long March 5B, could place up to 25 metric tons, or 55,000 pounds, into low Earth orbit several hundred miles up, just shy of the Delta 4-Heavy’s capacity to the same orbit.
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