Long Lehao, chief designer of China’s Long March rockets.
Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China could land a trio of taikonauts on the Moon before 2030.

That’s the story from China Central Television (CCTV), talking with a chief designer of China’s Long March rockets.

Speaking during this year’s China Space Conference in Haikou City of south China’s Hainan Province, Long Lehao, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said that China has an ambitious new rocket for human missions as its space program reaches new heights.

The new manned rocket is expected to have a similar diameter in its body compared with the Long March-5, the country’s largest carrier rocket which Long helped design. Advanced technologies have also been applied in the construction of the new rocket in order to complete the manned moon landing mission, added Long in the CCTV interview.

Credit: CNSA

“The launch vehicle has a near-Earth orbit capacity of about 70 tons and an Earth-moon-transfer orbit capacity of about 27 tons. We may launch this rocket in two missions and could land three Chinese astronauts on the Moon before 2030,” he said.

Multiple missions

Long added that a new heavy-lift rocket with greater carrying capacities is also under development.

With a 10-meter diameter and a height of more than 110 meters, Long said it is capable of sending a payload of 150 tons into low orbit, and is built to carry up to 50 tons to an Earth-moon transfer orbit.

“In the future, we can complete multiple remote missions, such as exploring Mars with manned rockets, establishing lunar base, and applying into civil use,” Long told CCTV. “We can use the rocket to build a space solar power station. Everything is going smoothly now. The first, second and third stages of engines have undergone corresponding short-range thermal tests. Specific plans have been rolled out. It is entirely possible for China to carry out first test flight in about eight to 10 years,” he said.

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