Representative Liu Zhirang: Heavy-lift carrier rocket provides significant support to turn China into an aerospace power

“To achieve the goal of making China among the aerospace powers before 2030 and turning China into an aerospace power in all terms before 2045, China needs a more powerful carrier rocket to space.” said Liu Zhirang on March 17th, a NPC deputy and the president of the China National Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation in an interview with People’s Daily. He also said that Heavy-lift carrier rocket provided significant support to turn China into an aerospace power and also provides the basis for using the space resources on large scale and exploring the deep space.

Liu Zhirang stated that representing China’s new generation of large-thrust rockets, the Long March 5 rocket has a 25-ton near-surface carrying capacity and is able to transport one core module into space every time. However, to significantly enhance China’s capability to enter space, conduct manned moon landings, and deep-space exploration as an aerospace power, we must launch projects and develop heavy-lift rockets as soon as possible.

Power leads the development of the aerospace. Whether the development of heavy-lift rocket Space Launch System (SLS) and rocket “Vulcan” by the United States, rocket “Angara” by Russian or the rocket “Ariane 6” by European all gives priority to the rocket engine development, so do many private aviation companies including SpaceX and Blue Origin when developing new rocket technologies. Hydraulic power is a field of innovative dynamism both at home or overseas.

Currently, China’s Long March 9 under development belongs to a new generation of heavy rockets, with a ground thrust as 3,000 tons or more and a near-ground carrying capacity as more than 100 tons. The takeoff thrust and near-Earth carrying capacity have surpassed SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. To design engine with large thrust and single pump greatly enhances the reliability of the rocket. In the future, China will develop more powerful heavy-lift rockets to meet the demand of manned moon landing, Mars exploration and subsequent deep space exploration.

Liu Zhirang introduced that the new rocket engines currently under development in China had three types—500-ton engine fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, 200-ton and 25-ton engines using liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel. They are used as the first, second and third level of the heavy-lift rocket respectively. The performance of thrust, specific impulse and that in other aspects of the three types of engines reaches world-class standards. The thrust of the 500-ton engine is more than four times the maximum thrust of the engines currently in service in China. The prototype assembly will be completed in 2018. If the project is successfully formulated, it is expected that the testing environment there will be in place before 2020 and the development of the engine will be fully completed by 2028 for the maiden flight of heavy-lift carrier rocket before 2030. This helps enhance China’s capabilities of entering space and making manned moon landings and deep space exploration as an aerospace power.