China Launches Heavy-Lift Long March 5 Booster

China successfully launched its heavy-lift Long March 5 booster on Thursday, giving the nation a launch vehicle with a lifting capacity on par with America’s Delta IV rocket.

The new rocket blasted off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center at 8:43 p.m. Beijing time.  Chinese media are describing the flight as a success.

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). 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.

  • Congratulations to China for the maiden launch of CZ-5! This is an extremely big milestone for the Chinese space program, I was glad that – almost – everything went swimmingly. I look forward to seeing this monster lift humanity s next space station in the following years!

  • For the record, the DIV-H GTO numbers are for GTO-1800. We don’t know exactly what the 14,000kg of the LM-5 refer to (as far as inclination is concerned).

  • Jacob Samorodin

    How many realize the historic significance of this launch? China, if it wants to, can send an upgraded 8-metric-ton Shenzhou crewed spacecraft to circumnavigate the Moon in a couple of years. They now have the MEANS to do it, the opportunity as well; do they have the motive? If China wants to needle America, it can use this type of booster to park a 17 metric ton (13.5T LH2/LOX: 3.5T empty booster) in LEO, with an attached lunar Shenzhou, with three taikonauts, in low Earth orbit and send them off to circle the Moon in July, 2019. The 60th anniversary of Apollo 11. All that is required is for these communist Chinese dictators to demand/order their space agencies to carry it out before this decade is out. Shhhhh!!! Maybe I should have been quiet; communist Chinese spies do access internet message-boards for info and ideas.

  • Aerospike

    That is a huge step forward from their previous launchers (which are/were mostly fueled by those nasty hypergolics)

  • Hug Doug

    Probably not the motive, since they are currently working on a large multi-module space station.

    Maybe when they’re done with that.

  • savuporo

    Success breeds success though. Successful teams normally get more money and more resources do expand their ambitions

  • savuporo

    Quickly shrinking technology gap.

  • John_The_Duke_Wayne

    Hopefully they won’t burn the ships after their first mission this time around

  • JamesG

    Your WalMart dollars at work…

  • JamesG

    They have the scale and resources to do both at the same time.

  • MzUnGu

    I guess they really wanted their own moon rocks. 😀 Do like to see the sample return mission soon.

  • Hug Doug

    Well, maybe. I can think of a half-dozen examples where that isn’t true off the top of my head, though. I’m sure you can, too.

  • Hug Doug

    True, but that really depends on if their government allots them the money. China’s space program has always had quite a small budget, and there has never been any signs of them scaling up the way they’d need to to go to the Moon.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Well consider this booster is 8 years late. We don’t know how well this flight went, and we don’t know what the Chinese are going to use it for. It could be like STS was for us. We could afford the launch system, but could not afford all the cool payloads we had in mind for it. I think LM5 sets up the freedom for GEO birds to grow, and that’s a good thing. that feeds into the commercial prospects for our new boosters. Let’s see if the Chinese are willing to pay for those large payloads and at what rate they can deliver them.

    Also, it’s 50 years …. 50 not 60 …. I won’t be THAT old…. Yikes!

  • JamesG

    We would have no way of knowing they were until, “Whoah… that’s a lot of rockets. I wonder where they are going?”

  • Vladislaw

    There would be talk around the water coolers in the intel agencies around the world, global sats would see the build up of testing etc..