China’s new spaceport on Hainan Island is set to be the departure point for new classes of Long March boosters. Model of the complex depicts layout of the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center. Credit: China Space website

China’s new spaceport on Hainan Island is set to be the departure point for new classes of Long March boosters. Model of the complex depicts layout of the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.
Credit: China Space website

China’s new Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan will soon be the test site of the country’s Long March 7 booster.

According to the State-owned China Daily, the booster is near completion for a set of compatibility – fit checks – with the launch complex.

Tao Gang, general manager of the Tianjin Long March Launch Vehicle Manufacturing Co Ltd. is quoted as stating:

“The Long March 2 and Long March 3 families, the backbones of our launches, are scheduled to retire within the next 10 years,” Tao said, “so the Long March 7 and Long March 5 will become the pillars of China’s space program.”

Static testing

Four Long March-7 rockets have been made to date, and three of them are being used for static and thruster tests, said Zhang Beijun, a senior executive at the company.

Ma Zhonghui, a China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology engineer detailed to the Long March 7’s development said that the rocket has new engines and uses eco-friendly propellants.“It can be widely used in commercial launch service,” she said, adding that a number of orders have already been placed for the rocket from domestic users.

Maiden flight

A Long March 7 is designed to boost a 13.5-ton payload into low Earth orbit and a 5.5-ton payload into a sun-synchronous orbit.

The maiden launch of the Long March 7 and a cargo spacecraft is reportedly slated for around 2016. Once in service it will support China’s Tiangong 2 space laboratory, scheduled to be in orbit by the end of 2015.

Earlier this month, Lei Fanpei, chairman of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, stated that along with the Long March 7, three other new types of rockets – including the Long March 5, a heavy-lift rocket — will take to the air for the first time in the next two years.

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