BEIJING, (Xinhua) — International scholars spoke highly of China’s launch on Thursday of its first heavy-lift rocket, saying it will lay the foundation for China’s future launch of rockets with heavier payload capabilities.
China launched Long March-5 from the coastal Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern Hainan Province, in a bid to verify the design and performance of the new rocket and test the rocket’s flight program. With the heavy-lift carrier rocket, China can build a permanent manned space station and explore the moon and Mars.
The successful launch reflects China’s “greatest advancement” in developing a new launcher family for both its un-crewed and crewed space programs, said Charles Vick, senior technical & space policy analyst with U.S. think tank globalsecurity.org.
“Eventually once the Long March-5 has gained high reliability, it will serve several mission for the crewed lunar program efforts and may become the crew launch vehicle for the eventual crewed lunar landing programs in planning,” Vick told Xinhua.
Instead of highly toxic propellants, the new series, also consisting of Long March 6 and 7, uses kerosene and liquid oxygen, making it more environmental friendly and less expensive.
Vick said he was impressed that this new Long March series was developed without Russian rocket engine technology know-how and American cryogenic technology involved.
Gao Yang, director of British Surrey Technology for Autonomous Systems and Robotics (STAR) Lab, told Xinhua that the technology of the Long March-5 has proved not inferior to heavy carrier rockets developed by other nations.
She added that the stunning carrying capacity of the Long March-5 represents China’s rising capabilities and competence in this aspect, noting China’s progress in space technology will, to a large extent, increase its influence in future international cooperation.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported Thursday that “the Long March-5 gives China the capability to orbit the heaviest of payloads – such as big telecoms spacecraft and sections of its future astronaut space station.”
“This puts the Long March-5 in the same class as America’s current most powerful rocket – the Delta-IV Heavy,” BBC noted.
Alexander Zheleznyakov, a member of the Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics, told xinhua that Long March-5 will remarkably raise China’s competitive edge in the international commercial launch market.
As for the rocket’s technical advantage, Zheleznyakov said the notable operability within its inner systems will help facilitate its production and decrease costs, which is key to its future commercialization.
China is now developing a mega rocket with the capacity of sending up to 100 tonnes of payload to low-Earth orbit. Its maiden flight will probably take place before 2030.