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China develops largest propellant tank for space vehicles

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A model of the Long March-5 rocket. A Wiki photo

BEIJING (PTI): China has successfully developed its largest rocket propellant tank which will be used to store hydrogen fuel for the country's next-generation heavy lift space launch system, Long March-5.

The homegrown rocket tank, measuring five meters in diameter and 20-plus meters in length, consists of bottom parts and eight tubular sections, which are welded together, official media quoted the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology which constructed it, as saying.

The academy made a major technological breakthrough in the welding of such a massive-sized fuel tank, it said, adding that developing and manufacturing a propellant tank are among the most difficult tasks in building a rocket.

According to a government white paper issued last month, China will develop next-generation of space launch vehicles, including Long March-5, Long March-6 and Long March-7, in the 2011-2015 period.

The Long March-5 will use a non-toxic and pollution-free propellant, and will be capable of placing a 25-tonne payload into near-Earth orbit, or placing a 14-tonne payload into geostationary orbit, the report said.

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