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China Moon Space Transportation Science

Details of Chinese Moon Rocket Emerge 138

Posted by Soulskill
from the chinese-moon-rocket-would-be-a-good-band-name dept.
MarkWhittington writes "AmericaSpace has published the results of a study of Chinese rocket development by Charles Vick, a noted expert on the Russian and Chinese space programs who works for GlobalSecurity.org, using Chinese language sources. Of note are the developing concepts for a super heavy launch vehicle designated as the CZ9 or Long March 9, capable of taking Chinese astronauts to the moon and points beyond. 'Liang outlined several new Long March versions, virtually all of them testing elements that would eventually find their way into the Long March 9 that has 4 million lb. more of liftoff thrust than the 7.5 million lb. thrust NASA Saturn V. Forty-three years ago this week a Saturn V propelled the Apollo 11 astronauts to the first manned landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969.'"
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Details of Chinese Moon Rocket Emerge

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  • by Antipater (2053064) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:12PM (#40691353)

    AmericaSpace

    That's not the WORST name for an organization I've ever heard. But really? You're THAT unimaginative?

  • Screw this! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @06:15PM (#40691379)

    It is time to build the Sea Dragon [wikipedia.org] rocket with 80 million pounds of thrust. And no new launch facilities would be needed since you can only launch it from the ocean.

  • An empire prospers when it keeps the trade routes open. It falters when it turns to lording over its own people, and a new core of empire forms on its outskirts, little fettered from it.

    • Are you saying you think the US has been closing trade routes over the last few decades?
      • by rtaylor (70602)

        It has not become easier to move goods across the Canada/US border in the last 10 years.

  • It's basic physics... make a heavy enough rocket and when you release the holding pin it will fall downwards, accelerating until it breaks free of the Earth's atmosphere. Then just turn it around and head to the moon.
  • by EdgePenguin (2646733) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @07:22PM (#40692005) Homepage

    Obviously, a US news source is going to use the largest NASA rocket ever flown as the basis for comparison, but I think their option 'A' design looks quite like the Soviet Energiya booster.

    Saturn V was a single body launch vehicle - each stage was stacked on top of each other, and fired sequentially. This was simpler to assemble, but meant that two stages had to start in flight - one of which had to start twice! The first stage was LOx/RP-1 to get high thrust low in the Earth's atmosphere, and the upper stages were LOx/LH2 to get maximum delta-V.

    Energiya, on the other hand, looked more like the US shuttle stack (and indeed, was used to fly the Soviet version of the space shuttle, the main difference being its ability to fly without the shuttle as its own rocket). It had a LOx/LH2 core stage, surrounded by 4 LOx/RP-1 boosters. All of the engines were started on the ground, at liftoff. Energiya was a mode 'modern' super heavy launch vehicle, as this approach is widely considered better these days.

    Sensibly, the Chinese appear to have looked to the most recent super heavy (100t+ payload capacity) launch vehicle that successfully flew for design cues.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sensibly, the Chinese appear to have looked to the most recent super heavy (100t+ payload capacity) launch vehicle that successfully flew for design cues.

      There's nothing sensible about building a super heavy launcher that will only fly every couple of years.

      Launch cost is largely driven by launch rate, so you'll save a ton of cash by splitting your lunar vehicle into smaller payloads which can launch on rockets that other people will use to launch their satellites. This is the equivalent of building a hundred-ton pickup truck to use when you move house, rather than just loading everything into a container and hiring a truck to deliver it to where you're goin

      • That argument has gone back and forth since the dawn of the space age. Both the US and USSR had plans to go to the Moon using smaller launchers, and rendezvousing in LEO.

        I'll just say, that the big launch method has worked a couple of times. The lots of little launches method has yet to work at all.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          I'll just say, that the big launch method has worked a couple of times. The lots of little launches method has yet to work at all.

          Sure, it works. If you have an infinite amount of money. America didn't, which is why NASA doesn't go to the Moon anymore.

          If you actually want to be able to afford to go to the Moon and keep going there, then building your own massive, specialised rocket to launch you into orbit is absolutely, unquestionably the wrong way to do so.

          • "Unquestionably"? That is a pretty bold claim - especially when no mission, manned or unmanned, that has gone beyond Earth orbit has ever involved a rendezvous of separately launched components. The closest to doing so were the Gemini-Agena missions that got boosted to higher altitudes (which as partly a test run for a flight where the Agena was replaced by a centaur upper stage, and a Gemini flown around the Moon.)

            Something that has never, ever been done in history cannot be "unquestionably" cheaper/faster

            • by Grishnakh (216268)

              Well it's not like no one's ever successfully docked craft in orbit; that's been done many, many times with the various space stations and their resupply ships. Now, how well that experience translates to subsequently launching the assembled craft from orbit towards the moon or Mars, I don't know.

              • by mbone (558574) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:22AM (#40694079)

                The big problem is that liquid Hydrogen won't keep long in space. A few hours, sure. A week? Not so much. So, if you are going to use the most efficient propellant, LEO rendezvous is very dicey. (If the second launch, the one with the crew, doesn't go on time, you spent a lot of money to orbit an empty tank.)

                The Soviet plan was to land a return vehicle on the Moon, check it out, and then send a crew to land, walk over , and fly it back. The return vehicle could be hypergolic so there was no rush on the crew's timing. Everything could be sized this was to enable long stays on the Moon. They actually built this hardware, but of course it never flew. Given the close ties between the Russian and Chinese space efforts, look for the Chinese to do something broadly similar.

            • Well, I hate to point it out your logic flaw, but when we went to the moon the first time, nobody had done any of that either.
            • by jamstar7 (694492) on Thursday July 19, 2012 @12:22AM (#40694077)
              Apollo was actually 'Plan B". The original intention was to build a construction shack/space station in orbit, build a Lunar excursion vehicle there, and fly it to the Moon and back a few times. In the long run, it would have been cheaper, but it would have taken longer. By designing a single stack that threw away 99% to get that 1% to the Moon's surface and back, they saved time.

              One of the Shuttle's proposed mission profiles was to cart materials to orbit in order to build that construction shack/lumar excursion vehicle to return to the Moon for long term missions.
              • And that mission profile required not a few more billion, but tens of billion more. Moreover, any conceivable savings, that are only available assuming it all works properly (and since when has first generation equipment ever been that perfect), is based on high flight rates. Seeing as the shuttle never could find enough payloads to justify its originally intended rate even before Challenger showed that rate as impossible I see no reason to believe we are suddenly going to need a weekly shuttle to the moo
                • by jamstar7 (694492)
                  Even 100 billion over 5 or 10 years really isn't that much. Vietnam was costing 4 billion a year and more at the peak. The cost of our 3 current wars would turn your hair white.

                  The original order for Shuttle was what, 8? They cut the funding down to 4 and a pair for testing, then made a big noise about Enterprise as a test bed. It never flew. 8 shuttles could have flown about every 10 weeks with plenty of time to inspect and repair the birds between flights. Just double up on the inspection/repair cr
                  • So what you're saying is that we should kill the funded program because a massively more expensive program might be better if we were to ever convince congress to fund it a level unprecedented even compared to Apollo. And that is for a distinctly specific vision of "better" that doesn't involve any concept of going beyond the moon and does involve lots of people stationed on the moon with little in the way of specific purpose. Aside from being a convenient place to stick telescope arrays I have yet to see
            • Don't forget what a spectacularly high failure rate Gemini Agena had. If the ISS taught us anything it's that we CAN assemble thing on orbit, but it isn't cheap, easy or problem free. I've never understood the hostility in some quarters to anything much larger than an ICBM. With every single proposed design the larger vehicles ARE cheaper on per kg, let alone per mission, basis. Some hypothetical SSTO is all well and good if you can go out and get me the funding for it, but don't tell me we shouldn't be bu
        • by nojayuk (567177)

          There is a 400-tonne spacecraft in orbit around the Earth right now. It carries a crew of between 6 and 12 people in a shirt-sleeve environment and it was put together, is kept supplied and intermittently boosted in orbit by a range of vehicles which each have a payload capability of less than 20 tonnes.

          If the Chinese are serious about building the Long March 9 superlifter as a "one-shot mission" stack they are further back down the technology history books than I thought they were, given they've already

      • You are absolutely right that launch rate is what is IMPORTANT. It is the fixed costs (launch pad, ground crew, etc) that chew up your money.

        The the smart thing is to get a 50 tonne FH going, multiple human launchers and most importantly, multiple destinations. Even now, I view sending up a BA-sundancer or so to the ISS as being the most important thing that NASA can do. The reason is that by helping BA get moving, then they will put up multiple EO systems. That gives a reason to have large launch rates.
    • All of the engines were started on the ground, at liftoff. Energiya was a mode 'modern' super heavy launch vehicle, as this approach is widely considered better these days.

      If it's so widely considered "better", then why does practically no-one actually use it? Not that it's actually modern either - rather it was used during the very earliest days when starting inflight was a huge unknown, and then later dropped except for the R-7 and the earliest Atlases.

      • What do you mean nobody uses it? Ariane 5 works this way exactly, and it one of the best commercial launchers available. All rockets with boosters work this way to a certain extend. It is generally accepted that you get more reliability the more engines you start on the ground (even single body Falcon 9 adheres to this in a different way - 9 engines started (and checked) on the ground, 1 in the air.
        • What do you mean nobody uses it? Ariane 5 works this way exactly

          Um, no. Ariane 5 doesn't work like that all - it has a 2nd stage that ignites in flight.

          It is generally accepted that you get more reliability the more engines you start on the ground (even single body Falcon 9 adheres to this in a different way - 9 engines started (and checked) on the ground, 1 in the air.

          Which of course it not what you claimed - which was that "all motors are started on the ground". Something that has never been com

          • The second stage motor on Ariane 5 is tiny compared to the boosters and the main engine. You are splitting hairs here, really.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Wednesday July 18, 2012 @08:11PM (#40692435) Journal

    The submission and at least one of the linked articles are just silly "OMG CHINA" rabble-rousing in an attempt to justify the diversion of NASA resources from commercial providers like SpaceX towards giant white elephants like the SLS heavy-lift rocket (and the legacy contractors behind it). I've yet to see any evidence that China's supposed plans for a heavy-lift rocket are anything more than sketches from dreamy engineers, without any actual funding behind them; if anything other non-existent heavy-lift rockets like SpaceX's Falcon XX have more progress behind them.

    If anything, indications so far suggest that China's space exploration plans involve the more sensible approach of assembling exploration modules in space, instead of building rarely-used mega-rockets that launch everything up at once.

    • Actually, I am hoping that if O is re-elected, that he will kill of the SLS, and then use just 10B (instead of 20B for a single 70 tonne) to get TWO SHLVs with 150 tonnes or so via a COTS approach. The other 10B should then be used to restore NERVA as well as a COTS for various tug engines and designs. At the same time, use some of help private space get to the moon so that we can re-establish ourselves there, while NASA is focused on Asteroids and Mars.
  • Yes, we will hear all the neo-cons and RWNJ on this site screaming about O killing off Constellation as well as the SLS. Yet, it is absolutely WORTHLESS.

    Instead, we should kill off the SLS TODAY and focus on getting private launchers going for human launches, as WELL as the multiple companies doing inflatable space stations.
    THEN create a COTS program for TWO SHLV. It should carry around 150 tonnes to LEO, cost under 5B to produce in under 4 years, and under .5B to launch. 2 companies would then win the b
    • by tsotha (720379)

      Yes, we will hear all the neo-cons and RWNJ on this site screaming about O killing off Constellation as well as the SLS.

      Must be easy to win arguments when the other side is in your head.

      Make no mistake. China IS in a cold war with the west, and they are WINNING..

      Oh? And what are they going to do with this moon base? Sell souvenirs? Rent it out to tourists?

      There's a huge difference between something that's possible and something that makes sense. We shouldn't spend a bent nickel going back to the m

      • False.
        It makes sense to get man off this planet. In fact, it is insane NOT to get us off here. We are the first species on this planet that has this capability to save itself by being on multiple other planets.
        The other issue is that many wars have been fought over resources. Minerals are needed. Less than 6 months ago, we saw that China invaded American waters to grab fish. Now, they were caught in Russian waters doing the same thing. Then you add the fact that China cut a deal with Philippines just a c
        • by tsotha (720379)

          We are the first species on this planet that has this capability to save itself by being on multiple other planets.

          Save itself from what?

          The other issue is that many wars have been fought over resources. Minerals are needed. Less than 6 months ago, we saw that China invaded American waters to grab fish. Now, they were caught in Russian waters doing the same thing. Then you add the fact that China cut a deal with Philippines just a couple of months ago to withdraw their boats, and even before the ink is

        • Once they think that they have it, then they will attack (ask India about that).

          Are you referring to this? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_India_War [wikipedia.org]

          This was 1962. Next you will be quoting the dangers of Genghis Khan.

          • Yes, I was refering to that. However, there is a real reason why 'Nam and other nations asked USA to help. China is pushing their weight around. More importantly, all of the Chinese neighbors KNOW that it will not only continue, but increase. As I pointed out, they are increasing aggression towards ALL of their neighbors.

            And what does a mongolian have to do with the today's Communist China?
  • I'll bet that the Chinese will set foot on the Moon and claim it for themselves, regardless of any long-standing International agreements to the contrary.

    ..and yes, I know this post will get modded down to "-1, Troll" and I'll get flamed for posting this. Haters gonna hate; I'm expressing my opinion, and I don't care who likes or dislikes it. I don't trust the Chinese government; I have been given no reason to.
    • by tsotha (720379)
      They can have it. What could they possibly do there that would make it worth the trip?
      • water.
        Plutonium.
        Other minerals.
        HE3
        Ability to live off-world.
        Ability to put up a decent scope that allows us to view deep, real deep, into the universe.

        And that is just for starters.
        • by tsotha (720379)

          Eh, there's plenty of water here on the earth. Plutonium isn't naturally occurring, so I'm not sure where you're getting that. "Other minerals" are also here on the earth. As far as HE3 is concerned, we don't know what to do with it, so I'm not sure why they would go to the moon to get it.

          And the ability to live off world is useful how?

          If that's your idea of "starters" I can't even imagine how useless the items further down the list are.

          • It is cheaper to put water into LEO from here, then it is from the moon.
            There is U on the moon which can be bred into Pu. This can then be used for a number of devices in space. Not just for mankind, but rovers and sats.
            Other minerals can be denied access to.

            And has been pointed out by brilliant ppl the world over (hawking comes to mind), our staying on earth is simply putting all of our eggs in one basket. Life goes extinct every so often. Normally, it is about 27 million years, but we never know when
            • by tsotha (720379)
              It is cheaper to put water into LEO from here, then it is from the moon.
              There is U on the moon which can be bred into Pu. This can then be used for a number of devices in space. Not just for mankind, but rovers and sats.
              Other minerals can be denied access to.

              There isn't any reason to put water into LEO or breed plutonium on the moon. We have more plutonium than we know what to do with already, and if we run out we can make more here. You keep thinking we can use this or that resource on the moon because

  • Welcome to space race 2.0. This time around USA will be the one losing economically.

Be sociable. Speak to the person next to you in the unemployment line tomorrow.

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