China successfully launches new Long March 6 rocket and looks forward to next generation Long March 5 in 2016

China successfully launched a new model of carrier rocket, the Long March 6, at 7:01am Sunday from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi province.

The rocket carried 20 micro-satellites into the space for space tests.

The new rocket, fueled by liquid propellant made of liquid oxygen and kerosene, is China’s first carrier rocket that uses fuel free of toxicity and pollution, said Gao Xinhui, an official at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

“Using such propellant can cut costs by a great margin,” he said.

“We believe it will greatly boost the competitiveness of Chinese carrier rockets in the international market. The new model will also significantly improve our ability to access space,” said Zhang.

The launch on Sunday has tested the feasibility and accuracy of the rocket’s design as well as other new technologies.

The new carrier rocket will be mainly used for the launch of micro-satellites.

The core stage consists of a single 120t-thrust YF-100 engine that burns oxygen and kerosene (LOX/Kerosene) propellant, which causes less pollution compared to the UDMH/N2O4 (nitrogen tetroxide) propellant currently in use.

In its biggest configuration, the Long March 5 will have four boosters each mounting two YF-100 kerosene engines, plus two hydrogen-fueled engines in the core. Using 10 engines at liftoff heightens the risk of failure, and so the Long March 5’s design has been highly controversial in the Chinese industry. The Long March-5 will use a non-toxic and pollution-free propellant, and will be capable of placing a 25-tonne payload into near-Earth orbit, or placing a 14-tonne payload into geostationary orbit.

The Long March 6 is also known as the CZ-6.

The official CASIC (China’s space launch vehicle manufacturer) displays pictures of the Long March rocket deploying a satellite after launch, as well as showing the next generation of Long March rocket families at the bottom, including the Long March 5 in its 14 ton and 25 ton payload versions, the super heavy Long March 9, and the solid fueled Long March 11.

The next generation of Long March rocket, Long March 5 rocket family is a brand new design while Long March 6 and Long March 7 can be seen as derivations because they use the liquid rocket booster design of Long March 5 to build small-to-mid capacity launch vehicles.

Long March 8
A new series of launch vehicles in study, which is geared towards SSO launches.

Long March 9
Long March 9 is a Chinese super-heavy carrier rocket that is currently in study. It is planned for a maximum payload capacity of at least 130,000 kg to LEO or at least 50,000 kg to Lunar Transfer Orbit.

Long March 11
The Long March 11 is a planned solid-fuel rocket being developed by China. It will apply China’s largest solid-fuel rocket engine and was designed to meet the need to rapidly launch satellites in case of emergencies or disasters. Its first launch is planned before 2016

SOURCES – Popular Science, Want china Times, Wikipedia, NASA Space Flight, Aviation Week