This edition is written / Beijing News reporter Ni Wei
In early 2018, the American Falcon Heavy Rocket made its first successful flight, putting a red Tesla sports car into the Earth Fire Transfer Track. Although the launch was entertaining, the space industry generally believed that it heralded the arrival of a new era of heavy rockets.
During the cold war, the arms race between the US and the Soviet Union brought the first heavy rocket era. The United States sent 12 astronauts to the moon using Saturn V, which has 118 tons of LEO and 45 tons of lunar orbit. The Soviet Union has also developed an energy rocket comparable to Saturn five and low earth orbit carrying capacity of more than 100 tons.
But with the end of the cold war, the global launch vehicle is going to be a heavy era. Nowadays, the rising demand of manned lunar exploration, manned fire exploration, deep space exploration and large-scale space facilities construction has stimulated mankind to focus on heavy rockets again.
Chinas heavy rocket has been named Long March No. 9 for more than a year, after several years of half-covered Pipa, because Nine is the largest single digit. At present, Chinas Longmarch No. 5 rocket has the largest carrying capacity, with a near-Earth orbit carrying capacity of 25 tons, while the Longmarch No. 9 can reach 140 tons, more than five times the length. The Tiangong Space Station, which China plans to build in 2022, will weigh about 90 tons. The weight of 1.5 space stations can be put into orbit once on Long March 9.
When will Chinas future rocket king of science fiction come into reality? Recently, Zhang Zhi, chief designer of Long March 9 rocket from the first Institute of Aerospace Science and Technology Group, said at the media briefing of the 12th Zhuhai Aerospace Science and Technology Group Aviation Exhibition that he planned to fly for the first time between 2028 and 2030, and the development is progressing smoothly.
At the Zhuhai Air Show to be held from November 6 to 11, Long March 9 will be introduced to the public as one of Chinas new generation launch vehicles.
Technical thinking is different from SpaceX falcon.
Zhang Zhi is not only the chief designer of Long March 9, but also the chief designer of Long March 2F for Chinese astronauts.
Zhang Zhi introduced the development of Long March 9, aiming at the needs of manned lunar exploration, Mars sampling and returning, large space facilities construction, etc. The carrying capacity of low earth orbit is 50-140 tons, the carrying capacity of lunar transfer orbit is 15-50 tons, and the carrying capacity of torrential transfer orbit is 12-44 tons.
Different carrying capacity is brought by different configurations of rockets. Long March 9 is a series of rockets, which can be equipped with 4, 2 or 0 boosters to form three configurations, so as to have ladder-like carrying capacity. Zhang Zhi introduced.
Long March No. 9 is over 90 meters in height and 10 meters in diameter. Four 500-ton thrust high-pressure supplementary combustion liquid oxygen kerosene engines are installed at the core level, two 220-ton thrust high-pressure supplementary combustion hydrogen-oxygen engines are installed at the core level, four 25-ton thrust expansion cycle hydrogen-oxygen engines are installed at the core level, and two liquid oxygen kerosene engines are installed at each booster level. .
This is the difference between Long March 9 and SpaceXs Falcon Heavy Rocket and the BFR rocket that the company plans to send tourists to lunar orbit. The Falcon Heavy Rocket relies on 27 engines to ignite at the same time to provide thrust when launching and taking off, while BFR increases the number of engines to 31, which is the technical idea of parallel connection of multiple low-thrust engines. However, there is a coupling effect between the engines, which is also considered to have greater risks.
The long march nine relies on a few large thrust engines to provide take-off power. When the maximum thrust configuration takes off, there are only 12 core-level and booster engines combined, which reduces the risk.
Assembling 500 ton engine in the middle of next year
The first flight of the long march nine is still waiting for 10 years. According to previously disclosed information of the national defense science and Technology Bureau, its first flight time is expected to be around 2028.
In the second stage, the serialization configuration of heavy rocket was further improved, and the application flight was carried out. At the same time, the reusable technology was used to further reduce the cost of rocket.
In the third stage, researchers will develop new technologies, such as new materials, new power, etc., to improve the delivery capacity and technical level. The rocket will also improve the adaptability to larger-scale space exploration missions and infrastructure construction, such as manned landing, space solar power stations, and support China to build into a powerful space country in an all-round way.
The Long March 9 project can be traced back to eight years ago, the National Defense Science and Technology Bureau officially launched the heavy rocket demonstration work in 2010; launched the key technology research and program deepening demonstration stage (hereinafter referred to as the Guanshen stage) in 2015, and achieved a series of preliminary results; and officially established the heavy launch vehicle depth stage in 2016. Item.
After the establishment of the project in the critical stage, 12 key technical problems, such as the overall technology of heavy launch vehicle, the technology of high thrust liquid oxygen kerosene engine, the technology of high thrust liquid hydrogen liquid oxygen engine, the structure design, manufacture and test technology of large diameter rocket body, were solved immediately.
Although it is very difficult, the development is relatively smooth at present. Zhang Zhi introduced that the overall scheme of heavy rocket has passed the group-level expert review, and the subsystem schemes are basically clear. The key 500-ton liquid oxygen kerosene engine is also progressing smoothly. It is expected that the first complete engine assembly will be completed in June 2019, with short-range test conditions. Large diameter tanks basically complete the research and development of parts and components. In 2019, large diameter tanks and concentrating force shell sections will be completed.
The targets are the moon, the Mars and the stars.
The carrying capacity of heavy launch vehicles is an important basis for the implementation of lunar exploration and deep space exploration, the construction of large space infrastructure and the development and utilization of space resources. It can greatly enhance Chinas ability to develop and utilize space and maintain space security.
There are several large space powers near the starting line. They use their new generation of heavy rockets to transport whether they are Tesla, space tourists or a real spacecraft. In fact, they are essentially a ticket to the deep space door.
The first era of heavy rockets was born of an arms race, while the second came from mankinds desire to explore the deeper universe. Zhang Zhi believes that it is an inevitable trend for countries to start developing heavy rockets. Human beings can not always walk around the earth.
For a simple example, rockets are now launched in a very complex way, with umbilical cord towers to supply air, just as equipment with chargers can operate. The future will enable the rocket to become autonomous and intelligent, which we are striving to achieve in the new rocket research and development. Zhang Zhi said.
Compared with the ability to rush and show off, the more important significance of heavy rocket is that it can make a big step forward for the whole aerospace technology level by taking the project as the traction and making solid efforts. Just like decades ago, Chinas two bombs and one star and the United States Apollo plan.
At the beginning of this year, the Falcon heavy rocket, which launched Tesla for the first time, was a accumulated rocket in Zhang Zhis eyes. It is the most capable rocket built on the basis of existing technology. In fact, we can alsosavea larger rocket. Its not too big a problem to reach 70 tons in low earth orbit, but theres no need for it now. Falcon Heavy has no mission after its first flight.
Zhang Zhi explained that the technology needed by heavy rockets can not be solved by accumulating the present technology. Its R & D will drive the upgrading of a countrys design, manufacturing, materials and other fields.
The Soviet Union and the Soviet Union launched heavy rockets decades ago, but later they did not. So someone must ask, what is the point of our heavy Rockets now? In October 31st, Zhang Zhi threw up his own problems.
The future rocket will become autonomous and intelligent.
According to Zhang Zhi, preliminary statistics show that around 2030, there are about 4 to 5 launches for heavy rockets, about 10 in 2030 to 2035, and more in 2050. We can see that launch demand is relatively urgent, and demand is very strong in the long run.
Long March 9 can also launch other large spacecraft to undertake the launching of super-large spacecraft, space solar power plants, super-large reconfigurable integrated satellites and other spacecraft.
Look at Mars again. Long March nine is enough to complete a mission to complete the sampling and return of Mars. Zhang Zhi said that this makes China hopeful to be the first country to complete Mars sampling and return, and to store technology and capabilities for manned landing, so that Chinas deep space exploration capabilities reach the level of the worlds space powers. At the same time, heavy Rockets will also be used to launch probes for other planets in the solar system.
From the nearest planet moon, the long march nine can be used for manned lunar landing and lunar research station construction. Aiming at manned landing on the moon, China is developing another unnamed new generation of manned launch vehicle, and Long March 9 undoubtedly has a stronger ability to launch into lunar orbit.
Whoever gets the space will get the future. How big is the ability to enter space and how big the stage of space development is. Zhang Zhi said that heavy rockets are the basic ability of all countries in the future space race.