China discusses rocket larger than US Saturn V for 2028 that could launch 130 tons

According to an earlier report by China News Service, Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, disclosed that the Long March-9 is planned to have a maximum payload of 130 tons and its first launch will take place around 2028.

“China is discussing the technological feasibility and requirements of the Long March-9, and research on the solutions to some technical difficulties have started” said Li Tongyu, head of aerospace products at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. “Its specifications will mostly be determined by a host of factors, including the government’s space plan and the nation’s overall industrial capability, as well as its engine’s development.”

The Long March-9’s diameter and height will be much larger than those of the Long March-5, and its thrust will also be much stronger, he said.

Li Jinghong, deputy chief designer of the Long March-3A at the academy, said estimates show the Long March-5 will have to use four launches to fulfill a manned mission to the moon while the Long March-9 will need only one.

The senior engineer noted that manned lunar missions will not be the sole use of the Long March-9, hinting that other deep-space exploration projects will also need the super-heavy vehicle.

“The diameter of the Long March-9 should be 8 to 10 meters, and its weight at launch should be at least 3,000 metric tons,” he said

Possible Long March 9 configurations were shown three years ago. At the International Astronautical Congress held here Sept. 23-27, CALT published main specifications (see table). One of the two concepts, Scheme A, would have four YF-660s mounted in the core first stage and one in each of four side-mounted boosters. In Scheme B, most of the takeoff thrust would come from four solid-propellant boosters, each generating 1,000 tons of thrust, while four YF-220s would be mounted in the first stage. That adds up to 4,800 tons, but the specified total is 5,000 tons, suggesting that the solid-propellant booster engine, the YF-220 or both will generate a little more than the thrust attributed to each individually. The designation of the YF-220 may hint at its real thrust target

SOURCES – China Daily, Aviation Week