WENCHANG, Hainan: Construction of China’s space station moved a step closer with the successful maiden flight of its new large carrier rocket, the Long March-5B, May 5, 2020.
The Long March-5B was specially developed to launch the space station modules, said Wang Jue, chief director of the rocket development team at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
The new rocket, a variant of China’s largest carrier rocket, the Long March-5, will help expand China’s aerospace activities, said Wang Xiaojun, head of CALT.
The Long March-5B is about 53.7 meters long, with a 5-meter-diameter core stage and four 3.35-meter-diameter boosters.
The rocket uses environment-friendly fuel, including liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen and kerosene. It has a takeoff mass of about 849 tonnes and a takeoff thrust of about 1,078 tonnes.
Compared with the Long March-5, the Long March-5B has one less core stage but a larger fairing, which is 20.5 meters long and 5.2 meters in diameter, as tall as a six-floor building, and nearly eight meters longer than the fairing of Long March-5.
The Long March-5 rocket will be mainly used for launching large satellites to high-Earth orbit and deep-space probes such as the Chang’e-5 lunar probe and the Mars probe. The Long March-5B rocket will mostly carry capsules of China’s space station and large spacecraft to low-Earth orbit, according to CALT.