Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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China to Test Flight Next-Generation Long March 8 Carrier Rocket in 2018

China plans to produce and test flight its next-generation Long March 8 next year.

(Photo : YouTube) China plans to produce and test flight its next-generation Long March 8 next year.

China is poised to produce its next-generation CZ-8 (Long March 8) medium-life carrier rocket to meet the demands of commercial launch services. It is planning to carry out its first test flight by the end of next year, Li Tongyu from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, said on Monday.

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The CZ-8 will reportedly sport a modular design, with its engines similar to that of used on the Long March 5 and Long March 7. Moreover, its core stage will be based on the CZ-7 (Long March 7) and CZ-3A (Long March 3A).

 "We will spend up to three years of its development and if everything goes well, its maiden flight will take place by the end of 2018," Li said, according to China Daily.

The CZ-8 is expected to display two solid-propelled boosters that are 6.5 feet in diameter. It could also carry a payload of about 4.5 metric tons to a sun-synchronous orbit or 2.5 tons to geosynchronous transfer orbit launch missions, Li said. During a sun-synchronous orbit mission, a satellite circles the Earth at the same pace the Earth revolves around the sun. Meanwhile, in geosynchronous orbit, the satellite rotates at a similar rate with the Earth.

The Long March 8 is believed to significantly lessen the cost of launching of low- and middle-orbit satellites, making it more competitive for the commercial launch market.

Meanwhile, the academy is also working on the latest variant of the Long March 5 heavy-lift carrier rocket, Li said. The Long March 5 will be used to place the core module of the country's space station into orbit next year.

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