Superheavy Chinese rocket will be fully reusable

China held a presentation of the project of its promising super-heavy rocket Long March 9. Previously, it was planned to make it disposable. Now the developers promise to create a fully reusable carrier that will be able to put 80 tons of cargo into low Earth orbit.

The layout of Long March 9. Source: OurSpace

Chinese Starship

China is preparing to launch a superheavy rocket in the early 2040s, which will be completely reusable. This is evidenced by the presentations of the Long March 9 project from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) at events dedicated to the National Cosmonautics Day in Hefei.

The presentation took place less than a week after the first test launch of SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft, which ended with a grand explosion. Therefore, analogies and parallels suggest themselves.

The project of the Long March 9 superheavy carrier appeared a few years ago. But according to the idea of that time, it was quite an ordinary kerosene-oxygen rocket, without hints of reusability. Its thrust was 500 tons, and the first flight was to take place in 2033.

What the new rocket is capable of

However, last autumn, Chinese engineers reported that the development of a one-time version was completely stopped and the carrier would be reusable and methane-oxygen. And now the technical details have finally become known.

The rocket will have three stages, and each of the stages will be reused. But the first launch, scheduled for 2033, will still take place in a one-time version. It is planned that the 114 m high rocket will have a launch weight of 4,400 tons and a thrust of 6,100 tons.

In a completely disposable version, the carrier will be able to launch 150 tons of payload into low Earth orbit, and if the first stage is reusable, then 100 tons of cargo can be launched into space.

The final option should be an analogue of Starship, which will put 80 tons of cargo into low Earth orbit. At the same time, the rocket can also be used for the Celestial lunar program. In this case, we are talking about 50 tons of cargo in the lunar transition orbit and 35 tons on it in a reusable version.

What is Long March 9 for?

At the same time, it is not necessary to think that Long March 9 is created specifically for China’s plans to capture the Moon. For this, they have a much smaller, simpler and cheaper Long March 10, the first launch of which is scheduled for 2027. Two of its launches will be enough to assemble a lunar spacecraft with a lander in orbit.

And the Long March 9, like all superheavy rockets, is necessary to send large-sized structures into space in one piece. For example, the Chinese plan to use this carrier to send their orbital power plant into space. 

According to

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