Long March 9
CZ-9 mockup 2022.jpg
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
Height110 m (360 ft)
Diameter10.6 m (35 ft)
Mass4,122,000 kg (9,087,000 lb)
Stages3
Capacity
Payload to Low Earth orbit
Mass150,000 kg (330,000 lb)
Payload to Trans-lunar injection
Mass50,000 kg (110,000 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
Powered by26 engines
Maximum thrust5302t / 52000kN
Specific impulseSea level: 327 s (3.21 km/s)
PropellantLOX / Methane
Second stage
Powered by4 engines
Maximum thrust489t / 4800kN
Specific impulseVacuum: 442 s (4.33 km/s)
PropellantLH2 / LOX
Third stage
Powered by1 engine
Maximum thrust122t / 1200kN
Specific impulseVacuum: 442 s (4.33 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 concept 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),[3] 50,000 kg to trans-lunar injection, and 44,000 kg to Mars.[4][1] Its first flight is expected to occur around 2029 in advance of possible Chinese crewed lunar missions sometime during the 2030s.[5][2]

History

2016, early design

As of 2016, the CZ-9 is 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 140,000 kg. In addition to the base variant, there is the CZ-9A variant which has only two additional boosters and an LEO payload capacity of 100,000 kg. Finally, there is the CZ-9B having only the bare 10-meter diameter core stage and an LEO payload capacity of 50,000 kg.[6] The expected payload capacities of the Long March 9 place it in the class of super heavy-lift launch vehicle; the rocket's development program was formally approved by the Chinese government in 2021.[2]

2021, new design

Long March 9 design as of 2021
Long March 9 design as of 2021

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.[7][8]

The new design is seen as being more suitable for first stage reuse, and a response to SpaceX's Starship.[9] (The 2011 design for LM9 is seen as matching USA's Space Launch System.)[9]

2022, fully reusable

On 23 April 2022, Long Lehao, chief designer of the Long March series, provided some updates regarding 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 stage and third stages will be powered by 120-tonne hydrolox engines, just like Version 21. Four engines on the second stage and one engine are 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.[10][11]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Jones, Andrew (5 July 2018). "China reveals details for super-heavy-lift Long March 9 and reusable Long March 8 rockets". SpaceNews. 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. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  3. ^ "First Look: China's Big New Rockets". AmericaSpace. July 18, 2012. Archived from the original on January 20, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
  4. ^ "梁小虹委员:我国重型运载火箭正着手立项 与美俄同步". scitech.people.com.cn. Archived from the original on July 28, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2013.
  5. ^ Jones, Andrew (9 November 2022). "China scraps expendable Long March 9 rocket plan in favor of reusable version". SpaceNews. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ Jones, Andrew (28 June 2021). "China's super heavy rocket to construct space-based solar power station". SpaceNews. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  8. ^ "[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. Retrieved 2021-06-25.
  9. ^ a b Red Heaven: China sets its sights on the stars (part 1)
  10. ^ "China National Space Day". kevinjamesng.com. 2022-04-25. Retrieved 2022-04-27.
  11. ^ "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. Retrieved 2022-04-27.