China Rolls Out Long March 5 Booster

The Chinese have rolled out its new Long March 5 booster, which is scheduled for its maiden flight from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Nov. 3. China’s most powerful launch vehicle, the Long March 5 is capable of placing 25,000 kg (55,116 lb) into low Earth orbit (LEO) and 14,000 kg (30,865 lb) into geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

Long March 5 is comparable to the most powerful U.S. launcher. The Delta IV Heavy can lift 25,980 kg (57,276 lb) to LEO and 14,220 kg (31,350 lb) to GTO.

Long March 5 stands 62 meters (203 ft) and is 5 meters (16 ft) in diameter. The booster’s first and second stages are powered by liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. Four booster rockets are fueled by RP-1 and liquid oxygen.

  • savuporo

    I think everyone reading this site is aware of all this. Nevertheless, storable propellants took us to the moon and back, and there is no strong reason why it wouldn’t work for Chinese.
    You can totally dock together and fuel up a lunar stack on LEO, perform all checkouts, and then launch another LM-5 with its high performance upper stage to do the earth departure burn.

  • Larry J

    The question asked earlier in the thread was about whether the LM-5 upper stage would be powerful enough to propel the lunar stack to TLI. The assertion was that it wasn’t powerful enough. I’m considering alternative missile profiles that might be possible with their existing LM-5 hardware.

  • savuporo

    With today’s technology, yes. There are various ways of doing rendezvous, as long as you have storable propellants. EML points, lunar orbit, even lunar surface.

  • windbourne

    Actually, Im the one that said 12 years of R*D.
    I do not recall exactly when they started it, but it was like 55-57 time frame.

  • windbourne

    yup. von braun already had it in his mind as to where it was going to go.

  • windbourne

    the interesting thing is, that if Musk builds his ITS around 2020-2022, then he will need to launch that at least 1x every 2 months to make it cheap. Otherwise, it will suffer the exact same program of the SLS and the end of the shuttle: very high fixed costs.

    As such, when ppl scream that Musk and NASA are wrong to focus on Mars, they obviously have no idea of what is really going to happen. Basically, NASA is going to buy seats to be on the moon with SpaceX, BO, and obviously, SpaceX. They will do this to not only be on the moon, but also to help these other companies lower their costs.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    You do realize that the U.S. pulled the space equivalent of ancient China’s burning and destroying everything related to it’s grand fleet, after it’s voyage of discovery. So, it’s practical that the U.S. will have to recreate a capability that it’s politicians deliberately threw away for it to move forward.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    No, that came from the NASA Authorization Act of 2014.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    Considering that it can be canceled at any time by a fickle President & Congress causing a start over process, yes it is a rush.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    What would you rather have them do? Cancel and start over or finish a project for a change?

  • John_The_Duke_Wayne

    “You do realize that the U.S. pulled the space equivalent of ancient China’s burning and destroying”

    Yes and I love using that analogy there, but 70’s shuttle hardware on a 60’s Apollomission is a thoroughly useless exercise

    “So, it’s practical that the U.S. will have to recreate a capability that it’s politicians deliberately threw away for it to move forward.”

    One step forward and two steps back….

    First off it’s not “practical” in anyway it is costing $20B for the first flight and can only fly every other year and is still 6 years and probably another $20B away from reaching its final design.

    Secondly it’s a pointless capability to develop, we aren’t pushing any boundaries recreating Apollo 8. It is a waste of NASA’s time and limited resources, there is no political or public support for extensive manned exploration of the moon so why spend the money to circle with no hope of getting funding to actually get down there

  • John_The_Duke_Wayne

    I would rather them preserve the 16 pieces of valuable space history in museums across the world, finish commercial crew development for a change instead of having two unfinished and underfunded projects and they should have started work on a commercial station module a few years ago. That way we am actually utilize a developing market instead of resisting change.

  • Aerospike

    With all due respect: I understand your point perfectly well, but I think that you might have missed my point.

    Of course something the size of Saturn V enables certain kind of “do it all at once” missions like flags and footprints on the moon. But my point is that a SHLV is not necessary to achieve a mission of similar scope if you go the route of orbital docking of components and refueling in LEO and/or are even willing to launch certain pieces of your mission separately to the moon (and dock in LLO).

    A LM5 mission to the moon is certainly quite a bit more complex than Apollo, but it is definitely doable (just as the US could do that with Delta IV or Europe with Ariane 5).
    Not saying that China is going to do it (they are currently dreaming of SHLV like anybody else), but with LM5 a multi launch mission is for the first time within the realm of the possible.

    regarding your point below that the transfer stage has to be about twice as heavy as the payload. That means LM5 can launch a 25 ton payload to the moon in 3 launches:
    1) payload
    2) transfer stage with as much fuel to have a total mass of 25 tons
    3) refueling flight

  • windbourne

    Actually, SLS can be any time and for good reason: operating costs.

    But not likely. We need redundant launch systems and until private space has 2 systems, we will keep it.

  • passinglurker

    LM5? that’s a lagrange point right?

    EDIT: no wait that means long march doesn’t it?

  • Aerospike

    Long March 5, the topic of this discussion, yes 😉

  • passinglurker

    Yes and I misinterpreted the new abbreviation as short hand for earth-moon lagrange point 5 an honest mistake on my part. Considering there is talk about how it could be used in a moon mission

    (interestingly the cryogenic stages are self pressurized which is a big step towards long term cryogenic storage needed for such missions in the vien of the early lunar access proposals)

  • Vladislaw

    ” It is a waste of NASA’s time ” Not according to congressional members in space states. The “program” is right on track and schedule…do nothing for as long as possible.

  • Vladislaw

    CEV was announced in 2004 and first manned flight in 2023?

  • YF-77 is a gas generator. The engine has dual turbopumps with separate gas exhaust. Both turbines are fed by a single fuel rich gas generator. The combustion chambers and throat are regeneratively cooled, while the welded pipe constructed nozzle uses dump cooling.

    The turbopumps use solid propellant cartridge for start up, while the gas generator and combustion chamber use pyrotechnic igniter. The valves and prevalves are helium actuated ball valves. The thrust and mixture ratio are calibrated with venturis and a propellant utilization valve on ground tests.

    The engine also has dual heat exchanger to supply hot gaseous hydrogen and oxygen for tank pressurization.

    All subsystems are attached to the combustion chamber and gimbal is achieved by rotating the whole engine on two orthogonal planes with two independent actuators.

    The injector plate uses coaxial injectors with some extended to create baffles that prevent high frequency instabilities. The Titanium fuel turbopump uses a two-stage pump with inducer and is actuated by a two-stage axial turbine. It rotates at 35,000 [rpm] and supplies a discharge pressure of 16.5 MPa (2,390 psi).

    The oxydizer turbopump uses a single stage centrifugal pump with a helical inducer driven by a two-stage turbine. It rotates at 18,000 [rpm] and supplies a discharge pressure of 14 MPa (2,000 psi).

    A pretty meaty PDF for this one can be found here:

  • A pretty meaty PDF about the sustainer engines (YF-77) can be found here.

  • John_The_Duke_Wayne

    They don’t technically do nothing, they’ve gotten really good at cashing checks….

  • The engines for the boosters are pretty advanced ORSC kerolox designs. It is speculated that China used technology from the RD-120 engine to develop these designs.

    Allegedly, three engines were were sold by the company “Obschemashexport” (Moscow, USSR), and transferred in 1991 to the company “Viektochmash” (the People’s Republic of China). It was those engines (and possible acquired documentation) that kickstarted the Chinese ORSC plans for the LM-5/6/7 series.

  • redneck

    Just for the halibut. A tanker flight could potentially launch much more mass than a standard payload flight. Stretch the tanks a bit for the payload mass. Carry the payload propellant in the upper stage tanks to eliminate shrouds, fairings and other unneeded mass. On docking, all of the residual propellant can be extracted as well as salvaging the pressurizing gas for reuse.

    Net result could be a far more capable mission with three 25 ton class launchers than one 75 ton class vehicle. Not to mention that refueling an upper stage instead of launch yet more mass of dedicated mission hardware is a net win.