Lunar mission moves a step closer

Updated: 2016-01-11 07:55

By ZHAO LEI(China Daily)

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Lunar mission moves a step closer

An artist's illustration of the Long March 9 rocket (L) in comparison with the Long March 3B rocket.

The Long March 9's technical specifications have still to be disclosed.

But Li Tongyu, head of aerospace products at the academy, said its diameter and height will be much greater than those of the Long March 5, which is undergoing final tests and will make its first flight soon. The Long March 9's thrust will also be much stronger, Li said.

"Our current launch vehicles, including the Long March 5, will be able to undertake the country's space activities planned for the next 10 years, but they will not have the capacity to carry out the nation's long-term space programs," according to Li.

Li Jinghong, deputy chief designer of the Long March 3A at the academy, cited technical estimates stating that the Long March 5 will require four launches before fulfilling a manned mission to the moon, while the Long March 9 will need only one.

The senior engineer also said that the Long March 9 will not be used solely for lunar missions, hinting that it will be required for other deep-space exploration projects.

Tian Yulong, secretary-general of the China National Space Administration, said it has started preliminary research on a Mars exploration program.

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