Long March-5 to take off in 2014

Updated: 2012-03-03 19:04


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BEIJING - 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.

Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, spoke to Xinhua on the sidelines of the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, which opened Saturday afternoon.

The academy designs and manufactures a series of rockets for China's space projects.

Engineers and scientists have succeeded in developing the first hydrogen box that will be used to store fuel for the Long March-5 rocket, said Liang, who is a member of the CPPCC National Committee, China's top political advisory body.

He said production of the rocket's key parts -- the fairing structure that measures five meters in diameter and major fuel storage boxes -- will be completed within this year.

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.

Using non-toxic and pollution-free propellant, the 60-meter-long rocket will be equipped with four propellers, with each measuring 3.35 meters in diameter, Liang said.

China has sought to develop non-toxic, low-cost, highly reliable, adaptable and safe carrier rockets in its research of new generation rockets to prepare for the establishment of a space station and the country's next-stage lunar probe mission.

China's Long March rockets in service include the Long March-1, Long March-2, Long March-3 and Long March-4 series.

China started the development of modern carrier rockets in 1956, and Long March rockets have become the main carriers for satellite and spacecraft launching.

The Long March rockets have made more than 150 flights. The Shenzhou spaceships and lunar orbiters were all launched by Long March rockets.