China's new carrier rocket to debut in 2014
Updated: 2008-03-02 19:14
BEIJING -- China's new generation of carrier rocket, the Long March 5, with a maximum payload capacity of 25 tons, will come into use in 2014, said an official with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology on Sunday.
The rockets will be made in Tianjin and launched in Hainan, said Liang Xiaohong, vice president of the academy and a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top political advisory body.
The 11th CPPCC National Committee will start its annual full session on Monday.
The 25-ton payload capacity, more than double the current limit of 9.2 tons, will greatly improve the country's capability in space exploration, said Liang.
Meanwhile, Liang said the Long March 3C carrier rocket will come out of production later this month and is scheduled to be launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan next month.
A Long March 2F carrier rocket will be used for China's third manned space mission this year. Compared with the previous two manned space flights, the upcoming Shenzhou VII space mission, which includes a space walk, is more complex.
China used Long March 3A for its first lunar probe Chang'e-1 in October 2007.
In addition to bigger capacity, the Long March 5 rockets will be designed using pollution-free technologies.
The new series of rockets will lift off from a new space launch center in Wenchang, in the southern island province of Hainan. The new center, the fourth in China, is expected to be completed in 2012 and formally put into use in 2013.
The rockets will be made in a new base located at the Binhai New Area in the northern port city of Tianjin, and construction on the base was started last October.
The first phase of the the 200-hectare base will be completed at the end of 2009. A total of 4.5 billion yuan ($630 million) will be invested in the project.
The base will meet the demands of China's space technology development and peaceful use of space for 30 to 50 years, according to Yu Liegui, deputy head of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense.
China has launched more than 100 Long March carrier rockets since April 24, 1970, when the Long March 1 successfully sent Dongfanghong-1 satellite into the space.