Long March 5B Booster Arrives in Wenchang for First Flight in Mid-April

Long March 5 on the launch pad. (Credit: China National Space Administration)

BEIJING, February 7, 2020 (CASC PR) — Only one month after the successful launch of the Long March 5 and Long March 3 rockets, another member of the Long March 5 rocket family, developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), started its first journey.

According to the introduction of Wang Zheng, the chief of the Long March 5 rocket of the First Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology Group, the Long March 5B carrier rocket is a new type of large-scale carrier rocket developed on the basis of the Long March 5 according to serialization, modularization, and combined thinking.

The first large-scale carrier rocket with a stage and half (ie, a core stage + booster, also known as “half stage”) configuration, mainly used for low-Earth orbit large-scale spacecraft launches, responsible for China’s manned space station Space segment and other major space launch missions.

The Long March 5B carrier rocket is approximately 53.7 meters in length with a core of 5 meters in diameter. It is bundled with 4 boosters with a diameter of 3.35 meters. The fairing is 20.5 meters in length and 5.2 meters in diameter.

It uses non-toxic and pollution-free liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. With kerosene as the propellant, it has a take-off mass of about 849 tons and a low-Earth orbit carrying capacity greater than 22 tons. It is currently the largest carrier rocket in China’s low-Earth orbit carrying capacity.

According to Li Dong, chief designer of the Long March 5 rocket, according to the characteristics of the new configuration of the Long March 5B launch vehicle and the high reliability of the manned space station project, the development team focused on a large fairing with a length of 20.5 meters and its separation. A series of key technologies have carried out a lot of technical research.

The development of the Long March 5B launch vehicle was fully launched in 2012. In accordance with the launch vehicle development process and manned aerospace engineering requirements, it passed the review of the initial sample transfer sample development phase in November 2018 and entered the sample development phase. On Jan. 19, 2020, the Long March 5B carrier rocket successfully passed the factory review.

During the launch site, the Long March 5B launch vehicle will first be trained on the launch site together with the initial samples of the space station core module. The main purpose is to test the test launch process of the space station module launch mission. 

According to the plan, after the launch site is completed, the Long March 5B launch vehicle will carry a new-generation manned spacecraft test ship and perform its first flight mission in mid-late April.

It is reported that three launches are planned for the Long March 5 series of launch vehicles in 2020. The new generation manned spacecraft test vehicle will be launched by the Long March 5B launcher, and the Mars probe and Chang’e 5 moon will be launched by the Long March 5 launch vehicle.

At present, various tasks in the launch mission training phase have been fully launched. In the face of the current epidemic prevention and control situation, the temporary party committee of the Long March 5B first flight launch mission test team seriously implemented the requirements of the group company and carried out careful deployment according to the actual situation.

Dong Liyun, secretary of the temporary party committee of the test team, said that the test team established a leading group for epidemic prevention work, established a rapid response mechanism for the epidemic prevention work and an emergency response plan, adopted a series of targeted measures, strict personnel management, implemented protective measures, and strengthened care for the team members.

Do a good job in medical protection materials and logistical support, resolutely win the battle to prevent and control the epidemic, and ensure that the Long March 5B carrier rocket joint training and first flight mission is a complete success.