|Function||Super heavy-lift launch vehicle|
|Manufacturer||China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology|
|Country of origin||People's Republic of China|
|Height||103 m (338 ft)|
|Diameter||9.5 m (31 ft)|
|Mass||3,997,000 kg (8,812,000 lb)|
|Payload to Low Earth orbit|
|Mass||140,000 to 150,000 kg (310,000 to 330,000 lb)|
|Payload to Trans-lunar injection|
|Mass||53,000 kg (117,000 lb)|
|Payload to Mars transfer orbit|
|Mass||44,000 kg (97,000 lb)|
|Family||Long March (rocket family)|
|Powered by||2 YF-130|
|Powered by||4 YF-130|
|Powered by||2 YF-90|
|Powered by||4 YF-79|
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. 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 140,000 kg to low Earth orbit (LEO), 53,000 kg to trans-lunar injection, and 44,000 kg to Mars. Its first flight is expected to occur by 2028 or 2029 in advance of possible Chinese crewed lunar missions sometime in the 2030s time-frame.
As of 2016[update], 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 a LEO payload capacity of 100,000 kg. Finally, there is the CZ-9B having only the bare 10-meter diameter core stage and a LEO payload capacity of 50,000 kg. 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.
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 tons, and the payload to trans-lunar injection was increased to 53 tons. Long noted that this new version was still under review as of the time of presentation.
The new design is seen as being more suitable for first stage reuse, and a response to SpaceX's Starship. (The 2011 design for LM9 is seen as matching USA's Space Launch System.)
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 the Version 22, is a reusable, booster-less design very similar to Version 21. The second stage and third stage will be powered by 120 tonne hydrolox engines, just like the Version 21. Four engines on the second stage and one engine on the third stage. However the first stage and second stage core diameter has 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. First stage will be powered by twenty-six 200-tonne methane/LOX engines instead of the YF-135 engine from previous design. Payload capacities are 150 tonnes to LEO and 50 tonnes to LTO.