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China plans Long March-5 rocket launch in 2014: Official

Long March II-C. A file photo

BEIJING (PTI): The landmark maiden voyage of China's Long March-5 large-thrust carrier rocket is expected to take place in 2014 as Chinese scientist completed major part of its production, a top official said Saturday.

The Long March-5 rocket is scheduled to be put into service in 2014, said Liang Xiaohong, the deputy head of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) affiliated China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology which designs and produces the rocket.

With a maximum low Earth-orbit payload capacity of 25 tonnes and high Earth-orbit payload capacity of 14 tonnes, Long March-5 rockets will be among the world's leader in payload capacity and reliability, Liang said, adding that the 25-tonne maximum capacity is 2.5 times that of in-service Long March rockets.

The production of a core cabin for China's manned space station and large satellites will also begin during the 2011-2015 period, said Ma Xingrui, general manager of CASC, which designs and manufactures major products for the country's space industry such as the Shenzhou manned spacecraft and the Long March rocket series.

China has embarked on an ambitious space programme which included creating a new satellite system to rival GPS, a second Moon mission to land a rover as a follow up to its successful lunar probe, Chang'e-II.

The programme suffered a setback on August 9 when its newly launched satellite failed to enter designated orbit due to a malfunction of the rocket.

It was the first time the Long March II-C rocket, regarded as the trusted war horse of Chinese space programme, failed after 35 successful launches and only second time that China had abort a satellite since 1996 after it developed its space applications modeled on the Russian technology.

According to the official website of the China Manned Space Engineering Project, Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 space labs will be launched before 2016.

Also the production of the new generations of rockets, including the Long March-5 and 6, will be housed in a large industrial base in north China's Tianjin Municipality, said Ma.

Tianjin is located about 150-km from Beijing.

The Tianjin Aerospace Industry Base, with an area of 313.33 hectares, has been built with a total investment of more than 6 billion yuan (USD 938 million), according to the CASC.

It is designed to meet China's growing demand for space technology research and development over the next 30 to 50 years.

By integrating the industrial chain, the base will be able to produce an entire spectrum of rockets of different sizes and types for the nation's moon probe project, space station and other projects, according to the corporation.

The base is built for the design, production, assembly and testing of new generations of carrier rockets, space stations and special equipment, and it provides high-end services such as aerospace software, Ma said.

The construction of a 220,000-sqm workshop for new-generation carrier rockets has been completed at the base, he said.


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