|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Jun 25, 2016 09:15 PM EDT|
(Photo : China Daily) Launch of Long March-7
Long March-7, China's second most powerful rocket, successfully lifted-off June 25 on its first flight from the new Wenchang Space Launch Center located at Hainan Island off the southern coast of China.
This test launch conducted at 12:00 UTC was also the first launch from Wenchang. The payload for this debut mission of the LM-7 consisted of a prototype capsule for China's future next generation crew vehicle (NGCV); a CubeSat; two other small satellites identified as ADRV and BPV and a block of ballast.
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China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the main contractor for China's space program, said the prototype capsule will be recovered on June 26 in Inner Mongolia after a short orbital flight.
LM-7, also known as Chang Zheng-7, will be used mainly for orbiting China's new Tianzhou cargo vehicle for the Tiangong-2 program that will eventually lead to building the Tiangong Space Station.
Initial flights of LM-7 will be classed as test launches. The new launch vehicle will be qualified for manned launches after achieving an operational capability.
China took eight years to develop LM-7, which can lift up to 13.5 tonnes into low Earth orbit (LEO), comparable to other advanced rockets.
LM-7 is powered by the newly developed YF-100. The first stage uses two engines and strap-on boosters using a single engine each. The YF-115 driven second stage uses four engines. Both stages run on kerosene and liquid oxygen.
China claims the LM-7 is the most environmentally-friendly launch vehicle on the planet. LM-7's engines are free of all toxic pollutants since they use only liquid oxygen and kerosene as fuel. The only pollutants it emits is carbon dioxide.
LM-7 is also China's first digitally designed rocket. It was designed and manufactured with 3D technologies, putting China in the top tier of digital design capabilities.
Wenchang has two launch complexes. Launch Complex LC101 is used for the Long March-5 launch vehicle family while Launch Complex LC201 is used for Long March-7.
Long March-5 is China's most powerful rocket and the first launch of this heavy lifter is scheduled later this year. LM-5 is designed to carry 25 tonnes into LEO.
LM-5 will lift the lunar probe, Chang'e-5, the core module for China's space station and the Mars probe, into orbit in a few years' time.
Over the next 15 years, China will develop and launch a heavy lift rocket nearly 10 meters in diameter, with five times the carrying capacity of current rockets for future deep space exploration.
A YouTube video of the LM-7 launch can be viewed here.
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