NPC & CPPCC > Key Issues

Calls for US to scrap rocket-launching ban

By Wang Xing and Xin Dingding (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-03-05 07:47

The United States has been urged to rethink its "out-dated" policy that bans the use of China's rocket-launching service by US and European companies.

It follows a recent warning by Republican US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher against firms sidestepping restrictions to do business with China after reports in the Wall Street Journal of a deal Eutelsat had done to launch a satellite aboard a Long March rocket in 2010.

But Liang Xiaohong, a CPPCC member and vice-president of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said yesterday he hoped the US would change its antagonistic attitude.

"We are willing to cooperate with our peers in the US but their government's outdated restrictions make it almost impossible," he said, and added that political or military concerns should not be the obstacle for international cooperation on space programs.

"Cooperation is much more helpful than confrontation in dealing with the common challenges of mankind."

New heavy lifter

China's next-generation heavy-duty launch vehicle, Long March V, is behind schedule but efforts will be made to ensure it makes its debut in Hainan province in 2014, said Liang.

Scientists have spent four extra months on determining its spectrum, he said. "The final spectrum, with six rocket conditions selected from 148 options, will be able to satisfy all the demands by China's current major space projects."

The eco-friendly rocket's maximum launching weight could reach more than 1,000 tons, he said, and would be able to deliver a 25-ton payload to a low earth orbit (LEO), compared with the present 10 tons, and a 14-ton payload to a geosynchronous orbit (GEO), compared with 5 tons now.

The 14-ton payload to a GEO means the rocket can carry a heavier satellite, while the 25-ton payload to an LEO will enable it to carry a space station, he said.

The project entered the prototype phase in February, although it is still not clear what the rocket's first mission in 2014 will be.

The high-thrust rocket was approved as one of the 16 major scientific and technological developments by the central government in 2007. The new rocket will be manufactured in Tianjin.

(China Daily 03/05/2009 page6)

An editorial of the People's Daily has called on China's top political advisory body to made due contributions to help the country weather through difficulties.