Credit: CNS via GBTimes

Credit: CNS via GBTimes

UPDATE: Chinese media is reporting the successful launch of the Long-March-7. CCTV (China television) is broadcasting the liftoff of the vehicle, also showing staging of the booster as it roared toward space. Still to come, full technical details on the outcome of this premier mission.

China’s new generation booster is ready for launch between June 25 and 29 from Wenchang – a new launch location in south China’s Hainan Province.

While weather at the launch facility may play a factor, the Long March-7 rocket is expected to blastoff around 20:00 Beijing time (12:00 UTC) on Saturday, according to sources.

Among duties, the Long March-7 is designed to transport cargo for China’s planned space station in the 2020’s. The Long March-7 is a medium-sized rocket that can carry up to 13.5 tons to low Earth orbit.

This maiden voyage of the rocket also carries a subscale version of a new Chinese re-entry capsule for human spaceflight.

Long March-7, a prelude to bigger boosters set to come. Credit: New China

Long March-7, a prelude to bigger boosters set to come.
Credit: New China

Mega-moon booster

Meanwhile, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news service, China is planning to start using a huge carrier rocket powerful enough to support piloted lunar missions before 2031.

According to a statement issued on Friday by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technologies (CALT), developer of the country’s Long March rocket series, the country’s Moon rocket would measure over a hundred meters in length and nearly 10 meters in diameter under the current design.

It would have a maximum payload capacity more than five times as high as the current Long March series rockets, the CALT said.

At present, the Chinese rocket capable of lifting the most weight is the Long March-5, which is scheduled to debut in the latter half of this year, in the September-October time frame.

For a fascinating look at the Long March-7 launch preparations, go to these two You Tube videos:

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