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Space Transportation Science

China Aims To Build World's Largest Rocket 250

hackingbear writes "Back in March, China revealed it is studying the feasibility of designing the most powerful carrier rocket in history for making a manned moon landing and exploring deep space, according to Liang Xiaohong, vice head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. The rocket is envisaged to have a payload of 130 tonnes, five times larger than that of China's current largest rocket. This rocket, if built, will eclipse the 53 tonne capacity of the planned Falcon 9 Heavy from SpaceX. It will even surpass the largest rocket ever built, the 119-tonne Saturn V. China's next generation rocket Long March 5, currently scheduled to debut in 2014, has a payload capacity of 25 tonnes to LEO."
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China Aims To Build World's Largest Rocket

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 16, 2011 @03:33PM (#35842034)
    Trying to compensate for something China?
    • Nope, but it will be magical [slashdot.org] and have a 500GB USB thumb drive...

      Forgive me if I don't trust ANYTHING Chinese anymore, but after that magical chinese hard drive and reading many [slashdot.org] many [slashdot.org] comments [slashdot.org] from other people getting burned I have a hard time trusting anything chinese.

      I will believe the rocket exists when I can see it myself
    • Yeah; For the world's lack of an ambitious space program. They're succeeding.

    • Yes, our brain cell is too small, although we do have a lot of them.
  • Anyone know the cost/weight? Absolute capacity is nice but dammit I'm not getting my trip to moon at these prices.

    • Irrelevant (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @04:21PM (#35842454) Journal

      This is not about a paid moon trip but about a states ambitions to power itself from a backwater nation to a world power.

      So money is not counted in a way that makes sense on a small individual scale. It is not like if the claim is made that it costs 1 billion dollar that Bill Gates could buy 6 rocket developments. And as to what it is worth. Well, what is GPS worth? The US launched it with tax payers money and the research leading up to it also was payed by the tax payer, but at what total cost and for what total benefit? Even foreign benefit?

      The press likes to print big numbers because simple people think money at this level still is real. But government has one advantage business doesn't have. It gets to take back a lot of your salary right at the start and then often also a large portion whenever you spend. So even a simple salary isn't exactly the same as it is for normal business.

      Suffice it to say, a lot, no it won't break China's bank and no, you can't fly on it. But the real cost to the US will be that China has a manned space program and the US won't. And that is something the Chinese might find very amusing.

      • Re:Irrelevant (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @05:02PM (#35842810)

        Cracking down on the massive academic fraud and rampant plagiarism would probably go a long way towards earning a reputation for innovation. As would ending the practice of locking up academics for saying things that the government doesn't want heard.

        Right now, we in the US are mostly coasting, but if the American exceptionalists and the conservatives could lighten up and allow things to sort themselves out we could still retain our leadership position on technology. Of course that would anger the creationists and the climate change skeptics.

    • by FleaPlus ( 6935 )

      > Anyone know the cost/weight?

      They don't even have a budget, timeline, or design yet, so one can't really say. At this point, according to the Chinese state-run media, they're simply "studying the feasibility of designing."

      Of course, that won't stop people from going, "OMG, China's going to beat SpaceX/NASA to the Moon!" or something like that.

  • by Gary W. Longsine ( 124661 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @03:45PM (#35842126) Homepage Journal
    SpaceX and NASA are studying the possibility of a 150 ton payload class heavy lift launcher, based on SpaceX Falcon technology. NASA Studies Scaled-Up Falcon, Merlin [aviationweek.com]
  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @03:50PM (#35842190) Homepage Journal
    that's made in China.... is funding this rocket
  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @03:58PM (#35842258)

    A Soviet design or a US design?

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @04:39PM (#35842588)
    Is is better to have one big launch vehicle (man rated), or is it more cost effective (and safer) to use multiple launches and then leave from earth orbit? Although the Saturn V worked using 60's technology, things have changed a lot since then. Maybe a different approach would be better now.

    Of course, just like the first race for the moon, much of this is about national pride, so maybe the Chinese want the biggest booster just for bragging rights. Some things never change.

    • These giant boosters are for launching weapons. Including nukes with a global reach. But also space-based weapons platforms. It's not the bragging rights - it's the military superiority.

      What a waste. Better to establish and protect the telecommunications superiority. And use it to explore and exploit the Solar System scientifically and industrially, rather than militarily. More bragging rights for everyone - and more money and power, too.

  • Could this be China's final solution to its population crisis?
  • by SgtXaos ( 157101 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @04:51PM (#35842700) Journal

    They had to have a project to use the money they saved from the (now illegal) time machine program..

  • Beating the Soviets (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @04:56PM (#35842756) Homepage Journal

    The Soviet Union produced th biggest rocket ever, bigger than any the US ever produced (and bigger than SpaceX's new "biggest ever"). Financing its space race in competition with the US was the final stroke that killed the Soviet Union. Meanwhile, the US is devolving launches into what will be a healthy industry serving global customers, but by US rules.

    I like the way this story looks to develop. Because I'm an American who wants to beat China in a race that takes us all into space.

  • by FleaPlus ( 6935 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @05:07PM (#35842866) Journal

    China's space program makes pronouncements like this all the time, but they don't yet have the ability to make things like this happen. Heck, just the other day personnel from China's aerospace organization said that they were confounded by SpaceX's price/kg and unable to compete with it:

    http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/asd/2011/04/15/11.xml&headline=China%20Great%20Wall%20Confounded%20By%20SpaceX%20Prices [aviationweek.com]

    Heck, SpaceX has designs for both 125 and 140 tonne vehicles [wikipedia.org], but it doesn't mean it plans on building them before it makes economic sense.

  • ... to travel back in time! :D :D

  • by DanielRavenNest ( 107550 ) on Saturday April 16, 2011 @08:25PM (#35844048)

    In manufacturing, there is something called the "learning curve". As you run a production line and optimize how you do things, you learn to do it faster and cheaper. But one thing Boeing learned is production below 2 units a month did not produce a learning curve. People were not doing the tasks often enough, and *forgot* between repetitions when they were more than two weeks apart.

    For a conventional rocket that climbs from the ground, they all have the same amount of atmosphere to push through. The drag is produced per square meter of frontal area, so you want a certain amount of mass of rocket per unit area to keep the drag losses within reason. That's why most rockets are around 50-100m tall. Once drag is taken care of, you get more efficient by going closer to spherical tanks. So rockets tend to get fatter once they are tall enough.

    So at the lower payload limit you are bound by efficient shape for the rocket, and at the upper limit you want to launch often enough to learn from experience. In between will be the optimal size for lowest launch cost.

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