Long March 9
Mock-up of the Long March 9 rocket at the 2022 Zhuhai Airshow
FunctionSuper heavy-lift launch vehicle
ManufacturerChina Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
Country of origin People's Republic of China
Size
Height114 m (374 ft)
Diameter10.6 m (35 ft)
Mass4,369,000 kg (9,632,000 lb)
Stages3
Capacity
Payload to Low Earth orbit
Mass150,000 kg (330,000 lb)
Payload to Trans-lunar injection
Mass54,000 kg (119,000 lb)
Payload to Trans-martian injection
Mass44,000 kg (97,000 lb)
Associated rockets
FamilyLong March (rocket family)
Comparable
Launch history
StatusIn development
First stage
Diameter10.6 m (35 ft)
Propellant mass3,420,000 kg (7,540,000 lb)
Powered by30 x 200 t
Maximum thrust60 MN (13,000,000 lbf)
Specific impulse330 s (3.2 km/s)
PropellantCH4 / LOX
Second stage
Diameter10.6 m (35 ft)
Propellant mass370,000 kg (820,000 lb)
Powered by2 x 200 t
Maximum thrust~4.4 MN (990,000 lbf)
Specific impulse~363 s (3.56 km/s)
PropellantCH4 / LOX
Third stage (Non-LEO version)
Diameter10.6 m (35 ft)
Propellant mass140,000 kg (310,000 lb)
Powered by4 YF-79
Maximum thrust1.0 MN (220,000 lbf)
Specific impulse455.2 s (4.464 km/s)
PropellantLH2 / LOX

Long March 9 (Chinese: 长征九号火箭, LM-9 or Changzheng 9, CZ-9) is a Chinese super-heavy carrier rocket that is currently under development.[1][2] It is the ninth iteration of the Long March rocket family, named for the Chinese Red Army's 1934–35 Long March campaign during the Chinese Civil War.

Current plans call for the Long March 9 to have a maximum payload capacity of 150,000 kg to low Earth orbit (LEO) and 54,000 kg to trans-lunar injection.[3][4] Its first flight is planned for 2033,[5] in anticipation of an increase in cadence by China's crewed lunar missions during the 2030s.[6][2] (As of 2023, the first crewed lunar landing attempt by China is expected to occur by the year 2030; this initial effort would use the under-development Long March 10 carrier rocket, the next-generation crewed spacecraft, and the Chinese crewed lunar lander.[7])

History

2016, early design

The CZ-9 was initially designed as a three-staged rocket, with a first-stage core diameter of 10 meters and using a cluster of four engines. Multiple variants of the rocket have been proposed, with CZ-9 being the largest: this 'base variant' has four additional liquid-fuel boosters strapped onto the core stage (each individual booster would be up to 5 meters in diameter) and it is this variant that has the aforementioned LEO payload capacity of 140 tons. In addition to the base variant, there is the CZ-9A variant, which has only two additional boosters and an LEO payload capacity of 100 tons. Finally, there is the CZ-9B, having only the bare 10-meter diameter core stage and an LEO payload capacity of 50 tons.[8] The expected payload capacities of the Long March 9 place it in the class of the super heavy-lift launch vehicle. The rocket's development program was formally approved by the Chinese government in 2021.[2]

2021, new design

Previous Long March 9 design

On 24 June 2021, Long Lehao, chief designer of the Long March series, provided some updates regarding the Long March 9 at the University of Hong Kong in a presentation titled "Long March Rocket and China's Aerospace". The original design, called the 11th version (2011), had been supplanted by a new design, called the 21st version, which featured many changes, including an enlarged diameter of 10.6 meters, a length of 108 meters, and a weight of 4,122 tons. 16 YF-135 liquid oxygen kerosene engines, each with over 300 tons of thrust, will be used in the first stage; 120-ton hydrogen-oxygen engines will be used in the second and third stages, with four in the second stage, and one in the third stage. All fuel tanks were changed to a common bulkhead design, and all external boosters had been removed. The payload capacity to low Earth orbit was increased from 140 to 150 metric tons, and the payload to trans-lunar injection was increased to 53 tons. Long noted that this new version was still under review at the time of the presentation.[9][10]

The new design is seen as being more suitable for first-stage reuse, and is a response to SpaceX's Starship.[11] The 2011 design for LM9 is seen as matching the USA's Space Launch System.[11]

2022, reusable

On 23 April 2022, Long provided some updates on yet another new design for the Long March 9. This one, referred to as Version 22, is a reusable, booster-less design very similar to Version 21. The second and third stages will be powered by 120-tonne hydrolox engines, just like Version 21. Four engines are on the second stage and one engine is in the third stage. However, the first-stage and second-stage core diameters have been increased to 11 meters, while the third-stage diameter is 7.5 meters. The total length has been increased to 111 meters, with a mass of 4122 tonnes. The first stage will be powered by twenty-six 200-tonne methane/LOX engines instead of the YF-135 engine from the previous design. Payload capacities are 150 tonnes to LEO and 50 tonnes to TLI.[12][13]

In October 2022, Long Lehao once again disclosed the new design of the Long March 9. The diameter of the first and second stages of the new version changed back to 10.6 meters, the diameter of the third stage became the same as the first and second stages, the total length increased to 114 meters, and the first stage power was changed to twenty-four of 240 tons kerosene/LOX engine. The payload capacity is 100-160 tonnes to LEO, and 35-53 tonnes to TLI.[14]

2023

During a presentation at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology in March 2023,[3][4] Long Lehao presented yet other modification to the plans. The reusable first stage is now powered by 30 200-tonne-thrust rocket engines burning methane and liquid oxygen, while the expendable second stage uses 2 engines of the same type. The third stage is optional and uses a single 120-tonne-thrust liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen staged combustion engine named the YF-91. Long-term plans exist to make the 2nd stage reusable as well.

In April 2023 a new presentation by CALT showed the 3rd stage as powered by 4 YF-79 expander cycle liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines instead, each of 25-tonnes of thrust.[15] Another presentation on the same month shows a planned fully reusable, 2-stage version of the Long March 9 to be developed during the 2040s, in a configuration similar to the SpaceX Starship.[5]

See also

References

  1. ^ Jones, Andrew (5 July 2018). "China reveals details for super-heavy-lift Long March 9 and reusable Long March 8 rockets". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 12 March 2023. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  2. ^ a b c Berger, Eric (24 February 2021). "China officially plans to move ahead with super-heavy Long March 9 rocket". Ars Technica. Archived from the original on 28 February 2021. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  3. ^ a b Adrian Beil (2023-03-03). "Starship debut leading the rocket industry toward full reusability". NASASpaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 2023-03-10. Retrieved 2023-03-05.
  4. ^ a b "箭指载人登月!长征十号安排上了" (in Chinese (China)). China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. 2023-03-04. Archived from the original on 2023-08-05. Retrieved 2023-03-05.
  5. ^ a b Adrian Beil (27 April 2023). "How Chang Zheng 9 arrived at the "Starship-like" design". NASASpaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 11 May 2023. Retrieved 12 May 2023.
  6. ^ Jones, Andrew (9 November 2022). "China scraps expendable Long March 9 rocket plan in favor of reusable version". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 7 September 2023. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  7. ^ Andrew Jones (17 July 2023). "China sets out preliminary crewed lunar landing plan". spacenews.com. Archived from the original on 8 February 2024. Retrieved 31 October 2023.
  8. ^ "China Aims for Humanity's Return to the Moon in the 2030s". popsci.com. 2016-05-05. Archived from the original on 2016-05-08. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  9. ^ Jones, Andrew (28 June 2021). "China's super heavy rocket to construct space-based solar power station". SpaceNews. Archived from the original on 24 February 2024. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  10. ^ "[线上同步直播] 驰骋大航天时代 - 与国家航天工程科学家现场交流 | Mainland Affairs Office (MAO), HKU". mainlandaffairs.hku.hk. Archived from the original on 2022-09-22. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  11. ^ a b "The Space Review: Red Heaven: China sets its sights on the stars (part 1)". www.thespacereview.com. Archived from the original on 2022-11-20. Retrieved 2023-06-15.
  12. ^ "China National Space Day". kevinjamesng.com. 2022-04-25. Archived from the original on 2022-11-28. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  13. ^ "10 more engines!The Long March 9 rocket has a new configuration, which is thicker and taller and can be reused". inf.news. 2022-04-27. Archived from the original on 2022-08-05. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  14. ^ 盧伯華 (2022-12-01). "頭條揭密》中國版星艦2030首飛 陸長征9號超重型火箭定案" (in Traditional Chinese). 中国新闻网. Archived from the original on 2023-05-03. Retrieved 2023-01-07.
  15. ^ @CNSpaceflight (April 21, 2023). "CASC to SpaceX: thanks for testing the new design out before we realize it. Keep up the good work. slide of Long March 9: D10.6m & H114m; 1st: 30*200t FFSC methalox engines with 3420t propellant; 2nd: 2 engines w/ 370t propellant; 3rd: 4*YF-79 25t LH2/LOX with 140t propellant" (Tweet). Retrieved 2023-04-24 – via Twitter.