- Parabolic Arc
- November 29, 2023
China’s Satellite Launch Vehicle Surge
China is in the midst of an overhaul of its satellite launch capabilities, with the introduction of five new launch vehicles in just over two years.
China will debut a new medium launch vehicle, the Long March 7, in June. Three months later, it will launch its largest rocket to date, the Long March 5, which will be capable of placing 25 metric tons into low Earth orbit.
Last September, the Long March 6 and Long March 11 debuted to serve the small satellite launch market. A third small launcher, Naga-L, is set to make its inaugurate flight by the end of 2017.
|NEW CHINESE LAUNCH VEHICLE, 2015-2017|
|LAUNCH VEHICLE||LEO (kg/lbs)
|ESTIMATED PRICE PER LAUNCH||FIRST LAUNCH|
|Long March 11||700 (1,543)||N/A||350 (772)||Undisclosed||September 2015|
|Long March 6||1,500 (3,307)||N/A||1,080 (2,381)||Undisclosed||September 2015|
|Naga-L||1,550 (3,417)||N/A||620-820 (1,367-1,808)||$10 Million||Late 2017|
|Long March 7||13,500 (29,762)||N/A||5,500 (12,125)||Undisclosed||June 2016|
|Long March 5||25,000 (55,116)||14,000 (30,865)||N/A||Undisclosed||September 2016|
Long March 7 is based on the successful Long March 2F booster, which is used to launch Shenzhou crewed spacecraft. It is considered a cleaner booster because it uses liquid oxygen and kerosene instead of the hazardous dinitrogen tetroxide (nitrogen tetroxide) and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine used in the existing line of Long March boosters.
The new booster shares engines with the Long March 5 and Long March 6 boosters. Long March 7 will replace the Long March 2 rocket family and eventually the Long March 3 boosters.
Long March 5 will give China a launch vehicle similar to the American Delta IV Heavy. It will be used to launch modules for China’s permanent space station, which is set to begin construction around 2018. Next year, Long March 5 is scheduled to launch the Chang’e 5 mission, which is designed to return soil samples from the surface of the moon.
The Naga-L, which is set to be the first Chinese launch vehicle to operate outside of China, is focused on serving the commercial small satellite market. Officials at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) are examining launch sites in Indonesia, Tanzania, Sweden and China.
The table below shows present and future Chinese launch vehicles.
|PRESENT & FUTURE CHINESE LAUNCH VEHICLES|
|LAUNCH VEHICLE||LEO (kg/lbs)
|ESTIMATED PRICE PER LAUNCH|
|Long March 11||700 (1,543)||N/A||350 (772)||Undisclosed|
|Long March 6||1,500 (3,307)||N/A||1,080 (2,381)||Undisclosed|
|Naga-L||1,550 (3,417)||N/A||620-820 (1,367-1,808)||$10M|
|Long March 2D||3,500 (7,716)||N/A||1,300 (2,866)||$30M|
|Long March 4B||4,200 (9,259)||1,500 (3,307)||2,800 (6,173)||$30M|
|Long March 4C||4,200 (9,259)||1,500 (3,307)||2,800 (6,173)||$30M|
|Long March 2F||8,400 (18,519)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Long March 3A||8,500 (18,739)||2,600 (5,732)||N/A||$70M|
|Long March 3C||N/A||3,800 (8,378)||N/A||$70M|
|Long March 3B/E||12,000 (26,456)||5,500 (12,125)||5,700 (12,566)||$70M|
|Long March 7||13,500 (29,762)||N/A||5,500 (12,125)||Undisclosed|
|Long March 5||25,000 (55,116)||14,000 (30,865)||N/A||Undisclosed|
|Long March 9||130,000 (286,601)||Unknown||N/A||Unknown|