Three-Stage Engine of China's New Manned Carrier Rocket to Enter Prototype DevelopmentJun 17, 2022
China’s space programme has moved a step closer to crewed lunar and interplanetary missions with the completion of a prototype super heavy-lift rocket engine, according to state media.
The 220-tonne engine will power the next generation Long March 9 rocket
The China National Space Agency plans to land people on the moon by 2030 and there are ambitions for a return to Mars
The 220-tonne engine is intended to power the next generation Long March 9 (CZ-9) carrier rocket, expected to enter service before 2030. The CZ-9 will be a three-stage rocket with boosters, with the new engine forming its core and second stage, according to China Space News.
“It is one of the most important symbols of a nation becoming a space power,” the report said.
The China National Space Agency (CNSA) plans to land people on the moon by 2030 and announced plans in June to set up a joint lunar station with Russia around 2035.
But China’s rocket capability has been a bottleneck to its ambitions for bigger missions into deeper space. The CZ-5 – the most powerful Chinese rocket in operation – has a payload of 25 tonnes to lower Earth orbit (LEO). In contrast the CZ-9, will have a capacity of 150 tonnes to the LEO.
The new supplement combustion cycle hydrogen-oxygen engine has been in development for at least four years. Its key specifications – including engine thrust, vacuum specific impulse and thrust-to-weight ratio – have set records for China’s rocket engines, although the China Space News report did not give details.
Once the CZ-9 enters service, it is expected to power a crewed lunar landing and eventually a mission to retrieve samples from Mars.