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Next-generation rocket for China's manned space missions on track
File illustration of Long March 10 Heavy roaring into space.
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Next-generation rocket for China's manned space missions on track
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Oct 20, 2023

China's forthcoming rocket designed for manned space missions, Long March 10, is on course for its initial launch around 2027, says a senior designer from the project team. The advanced launch vehicle is being developed at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a primary contributor to rocketry in China and a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

Zhang Zhi, a veteran rocket designer at CALT, indicated that the development of Long March 10 is proceeding as per the timetable. "The Long March 10 will be a brand new type of launch vehicle and will be tasked with launching the country's new-generation crewed spacecraft and the lunar landing module," Zhang said. He emphasized the vehicle's high standards of reliability and operational safety, designed to meet the demands of future lunar missions.

As for the rocket's specifications, Zhang revealed that the Long March 10 would stand at a towering 92 meters in height, roughly the equivalent of a 32-story building. The behemoth will boast a liftoff weight of 2,187 metric tons and a thrust capability of 2,678 tons. The vehicle is designed to be versatile; capable of carrying at least 27 tons of payload to an Earth-moon transfer trajectory.

Zhang further stated that the rocket would have a variant without side boosters, aimed at ferrying astronauts or cargo to China's Tiangong space station situated in low-Earth orbit. This version would have a carrying capacity of up to 14 tons.

The announcement came during an event in Beijing hosted by the National Work Committee of the Chinese Young Pioneers, a forum that also featured key figures from China's manned spaceflight initiatives, such as Yang Liwei, the first Chinese astronaut. The event provided an opportunity for these luminaries to engage with students and share their experiences in space exploration.

Regarding lunar operations, China's blueprint involves two Long March 10 launches from the Wenchang Space Launch Center, located in Hainan province. These launches will carry both a landing module and a spacecraft with astronauts to lunar orbit. Once both components reach their pre-determined orbital stations, they will rendezvous and dock. A pair of astronauts will transfer to the landing module, undock, and commence a descent toward the moon's surface, facilitated by engine-assisted soft landing mechanisms.

The lunar portion of the mission involves the astronauts utilizing a rover for scientific investigations and sample collection. Upon the completion of their tasks, they will re-enter the landing module, which will transport them back to the waiting spacecraft in lunar orbit. Finally, the samples will be loaded into the spacecraft, which will undock and begin the journey back to Earth.

To date, China has executed five robotic missions to the moon. Its achievements include deploying two rovers on the lunar surface and successfully retrieving samples via the recent Chang'e 5 mission. With the Long March 10, China is gearing up to add manned lunar expeditions to its expanding portfolio of space endeavors.

ai.spacedaily.com analysis

Comprehensive Analyst Summary:

Relevance Scores:

1. Space and Defense Industry Analyst: 9/10
2. Stock and Finance Market Analyst: 8/10
3. Government Policy Analyst: 10/10

Main Points:

The article details China's announcement of the Long March 10 rocket, aimed at facilitating manned space missions around 2027. Developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), the rocket will primarily focus on launching new-generation crewed spacecraft and lunar landing modules. The vehicle is described as having high standards of reliability and operational safety. Zhang Zhi, a veteran rocket designer at CALT, also presented some technical specifications such as its 92-meter height, 2,187 metric tons of liftoff weight, and 2,678 tons of thrust capability. Importantly, this rocket is designed to be versatile, with different versions for various mission profiles.

Implications for Sectors:

1. Space and Defense Industry:

- The Long March 10 promises to be a game-changer in terms of manned lunar missions and could significantly tilt the balance of power in space exploration towards China.

- It also showcases China's ability to domestically design and manufacture high-tech aerospace assets, potentially diminishing its reliance on other countries.

2. Stock and Finance Market:

- The development likely has significant implications for the global aerospace market, with potential effects on companies that collaborate with or compete against the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

- Investment in Chinese technology and aerospace sectors might witness a spike following the announcement.

3. Government Policy:

- This development could instigate an intensified space race, compelling other nations, especially the U.S., to expedite their own lunar and space exploration plans.

- It may also provoke a review or adjustment of international space policy and cooperation guidelines.

Future Impacts and Historical Context:

Compared to the past 25 years in the space and defense industry, this development aligns with the global trend towards more ambitious space missions. However, it notably departs from China's earlier, more cautious approach, showcasing more complex mission profiles and a focus on manned lunar missions.

Correlations, Discrepancies, and Similarities:

- Correlation with the renewed interest in lunar missions globally.

- Discrepancy in the scale and ambition of the Long March 10 compared to earlier Chinese projects.

- Notable similarity with the U.S. Artemis program in aiming to put humans on the Moon, albeit the Long March 10 seems more focused on scientific utility.

Five Investigative Questions:

1. What is the expected total budget for the Long March 10 project, and how does it compare to similar programs globally?

2. How does China plan to manage the high safety and reliability standards claimed for Long March 10?

3. What are the geopolitical implications, especially concerning the Outer Space Treaty, of China's manned lunar ambitions?

4. What is the potential for international collaboration or conflict stemming from this development?

5. How might the Long March 10 affect the global supply chain for aerospace components, particularly in terms of material demand and sourcing?

The Long March 10 is undeniably a significant development that warrants close scrutiny from multiple analytical perspectives. Its potential impact on the space and defense industry, financial markets, and international government policies is substantial and likely to unfold in complex ways in the coming years.

Related Links
China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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