March 4, 2011

Chinese Space Vehicles Have A New Home

Twenty of the 22 rocket manufacturing facilities are completed in the northern Chinese port city of Tianjin, the Global Times said. The increasingly ambitious country is gearing up to build rockets for its budding space program with an eye towards landing astronauts on the moon.

The latest rockets, named Long March IV and V will be designed and built at the 500-acre complex, AFP reports, citing Liang Xiaohong, vice head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.

With a payload capacity of 25 tons, the Long March V would rival the US Delta 4H rocket, Liang said. "Long March V rockets are designed for missions following the country's manned space program and lunar exploration program," Liang continued.

China launched its second lunar probe on October 1 and hopes to bring a moon rock sample back to Earth in 2017. It has planned a manned mission to the moon for around 2020, AFP reports from state media.

No timetables were given on when the new-generation rockets would be completed, but a space station is planned to launch in 2016, and China's first space docking, an essential step toward building a space station, is expected to be carried out later this year when two unmanned, but separately launched, space modules link up in orbit.

The growing nation became the third country to successfully launch a man in space independently -- after the United States and Russia -- when Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou-5 space mission in 2003.


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