back to article China aims its most powerful rocket ever AT THE MOON

China has taken a step closer to manned Moon and deep space expeditions with boffins completing vital research on a new heavy-thrust carrier rocket - which is designed to be more powerful than anything the country has previously blasted into the skies. Liang Xiaohong, vice-president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank goodness the bankrupt UK

    borrow's money to give away as International Aid to cash rich China. - you know it makes sense.

    Anyway thank goodness someone is going into space. Nasa seems MOSTLY to be these days is a nostalgia tourist attraction in Florida. The glory days are all behind you yanks.

    1. Gordon 10

      Re: Thank goodness the bankrupt UK

      Liar. You utter muppet.

      Show me the site that says we give any international aid to china. Its certainly not listed on the Department For International Developments Projects Site

      1. Frosty840

        Re: Thank goodness the bankrupt UK

        To be fair, we did only stop giving them development aid in 2011, according to various news sources...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thank goodness the bankrupt UK

        How about this one then...

        Download the CSV file




        You can apologise when your ready for your uncalled for ad hominem.

  2. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Tons, metric tons and tonnes

    To all intents and purposes they're all the same. Let's forgive the odd 35-and a-bit lbs (in obsolete units) and just call a ton a ton

    1. Bassey

      Re: Tons, metric tons and tonnes

      "Let's forgive the odd 35-and a-bit lbs (in obsolete units) and just call a ton a ton"

      Alas your common-sense approach flies in the face of the commentard's favourite hobby of nit-picking as a cover for showing off how clever and knowledgeable they are.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge

        Re: Tons, metric tons and tonnes

        Careful - you're getting yourself into a ton(ne) of trouble there.

    2. Chris Miller

      But not the short ton

      On the west side of the pond it's 10% lighter (2,000 lbs).

  3. Crisp

    Beware America

    The Red Dragon awakens!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Beware America

      I just hope their rocketeering effort is of higher QUALITY than their effort at imitating high-speed trains.

    2. Matt 43

      Re: Beware America

      Wait, what have the Welsh got to do with it?

    3. Sureo

      Re: Beware America

      I think the Chinese will find the same thing that the Americans did on the moon - rocks. Since NASA lost most of theirs, someone has to go back and get some more.

  4. NomNomNom

    hmm i never thought communists would make it into space

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Nope. I doubt they ever will. Of course, the Soviets managed and the Chinese have done so, but neither can really pretend to be communist except in some deranged tyrant's wet propoganda dream.

    2. E 2
      Thumb Down


      The Soviets have already been there?

      Hmmm, how does one speak in the past tense of something that no longer exists?

      1. Esskay

        Re: Uhhh

        Best to ask Dr Streetmentioner, i think.

        Mine's the one with the Time Traveler's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations in the pocket.

      2. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: Uhhh

        "The erstwhile Soviets have already been there"

        ... you're welcome

  5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    That 10-year lag

    “China lagged more than 10 years behind the United States, Russia and Europe in the development of large-thrust launchers, and should not repeat the mistake in heavy-thrust launchers.”

    Looks like they've repeated the mistake. Saturn V first flew before I was born.

  6. Scott K
    Thumb Up


    At least one of our race of BiPeds are still looking at visiting outer space. Seems the yuu ess ayyy have given up in a been there, seen that, got the t-shirt, too busy bombing for oil to go back modus operandi.

    I for one welcome our Socialist, Space exploring new rulers of the world.

  7. Roadkill

    "NASA's mighty Saturn V [...] is capable of 3,400 metric tons."

    Given that there is no feasible method for the US to ever construct another Saturn V, surely this would have been better stated in past tense, eh?

    As for Mr. Liang's comment, "China lagged more than 10 years behind the United States, Russia and Europe in the development of large-thrust launchers, and should not repeat the mistake in heavy-thrust launchers," perhaps his assistants should advise him of the history of the 1960's space race. It's a somewhat too late to try to be less than 10 years behind in developing heavy lift vehicles.

    Of course, for the paradoxical win, China may end up being simultaneously 50 years behind *and* 10 years ahead of the USA in this regard--given the state of the US space program.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "NASA's mighty Saturn V [...] is capable of 3,400 metric tons."

      The blueprints exist, the assembly facilities are still standing and the launchpads could be modified back to Saturn V spec - the only things the US lacks right now is a determination to get back into space and the money.

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: "NASA's mighty Saturn V [...] is capable of 3,400 metric tons."

        "the only things the US lacks right now is a determination to get back into space and the money."

        But the amount of money needed is *staggering*

        And SLS *will* be a Saturn V class (70mT *minimum* scaling up to 110mT IIRC)

        But will NASA run out of cash before they get there?

        And of course aside from MPCV is ther *any* mission it will fly?

        1. E 2

          Re: "NASA's mighty Saturn V [...] is capable of 3,400 metric tons."


          The amounts are not staggering, given the willingness of the USA to pay for stealth bombers, aircraft carriers, and so on. A Saturn V is not nearly as complex as a Spirit bomber, the pricetag for a Saturn V would be much smaller than for a Spirit.

          Money is not the obstacle, political will is.

      2. Roadkill


        Yes, the blueprints for the Saturn V exist and the launch facilities are still there. However, the supply chain is gone. NASA would have to find a way to source hundreds of thousands of different, obsolete parts. It would be far less expensive to design a new rocket from the ground up than to build another Saturn V, so the idea is infeasible.

        Incidentally, this principle also applies to the Space Shuttle. Vendor supply chains have been shut down, parts inventories liquidated, and engineering teams at subcontractors have been laid off. This was even becoming an issue while the Shuttle was still in service... you may remember reading in 2002 that NASA was buying old computers off eBay in order to scavenge the 8086 processors from them for use in the Shuttle computers.

  8. Dr Christian

    Coming soon

    Chinese takeway on Mars...then every planet in the localsystem.

    1. Chimp

      Re: Coming soon

      That's pretty funny. Not at all racist bullshit either, is it.

    2. Big-nosed Pengie

      Re: Coming soon

      Way better than McDonald's.

  9. Beachrider

    Sooo, if you aimed the PAPER at the Moon, what happens?

    So the Chinese have a paper on building a Saturn 4.6 rocket. A bunch of far-western Asians are now worried about whether they can hitch-a-ride on the paper?

    Perhaps you guys are low on paper...

  10. Chimp

    Some advice.

    China Daily gets everything wrong. Corroborate.

    CZ-5 (Long March 5) isn't 'current'. Perhaps you meant CZ-4?

  11. John70

    Made in China

    Everything else is made in China, so why not space travel...

  12. Kharkov
    Thumb Up

    Go China!

    Point of Detail... The Long March 5 isn't a 'current' launcher. It's not due to enter service until 2014. To get Tiangong-2 up (20,000Kg) in 2013 they're apparantly going to use a LM2F with extra strap-ons to get it up there.

    This 100-tonne payload rocket is just a paper exercise at this point, much as SpaceX's successor to the yet-to-fly Falcon Heavy is.

    All that said, China putting stuff up into LEO and sending probes BEO and eyeing the moon and Mars is great from my point of view. As Neil DeGrasse Tyson said, once it became clear the Soviet Union wasn't going to the moon, the US stopped going. International co-operation on space and hi-tech has been largely shown to be a very slow, expensive way of getting things done. Yes, if everyone committed to the goal and worked without reservations then we'd get a lot done and very fast but it's a fantasy.

    So the best way to get funding out of the West is for us to fear, in our pasty little hearts, that THEY (it's always them) will get there first and... do things... before we get to do things!

    Let China get their own multi-module space-station up by the end of this decade (the successor to the current Tiangong program) and develop a family of rockets that can compete with the West and we'll see a lot of water squeezed out of the current Western system and we'll get things done.

    In the end, it's all about dick-measuring but if it gets us out there...

    And who knows? Maybe they'll get a 100-tonne payload up there by 2020.

  13. Beachrider

    FWIW each shuttle payload was 100T

    Yup, each of the 135 of those was 100T of orbiter+Payload.

  14. Beachrider

    China has only had 2 crewed missions, so far...

    China has lofty goals. They only have had a one-man and a two-man mission. Their hopes are to get men on the moon by 2024 and on Mars by 2060.

    The USA doesn't even see a purpose to putting more men on the moon, at this time. President Obama wants a deepspace station or asteroid to be the stepping-off place for an uncommitted Mars landing. It doesn't appear that NASA wants to do 'Phobos regolith recovery' or anything like that.

    Consider that NASA believes that Moon-landings are unproductive grandstanding. They are showing their hand in pursuing Mars orbiters, landers and rovers. The fact that Mars has enough water-ice to flood the entire planet six feet deep is a really-cool thing, IF you can figure out the nasty temperature and atmosphere issues.

    The EU economy is MUCH larger than the USA economy. Why can't the ESA do better than 1/3 of the NASA funding. THAT is a noble pursuit!

  15. Kharkov

    Will the Chinese manage their space station any better than the US?

    Should ESA get better funding? Hell, yes. Is it likely to get it? Hell, no.

    People will really need to make some money in space/LEO before the EU pulls its finger out and starts giving decent funding to ESA.

    Just the way it is, I'm afraid.

    One question that the Chinese would do well to sort out before they launch their Tiangong replacement at the end of this decade is: Can they make it easy for individuals/universities & research centres/ corporations to use the research & study facilities on board?

    I mention it because one of the great claims that were made for ISS at the outset was that a whole range of people would have access to the ISS to do research. As it is, practically no private group or groups has been able to do anything because of the lack of access. Even when the shuttles were in service, they didn't get to the ISS that much and since their retirement, there's been precious little chance for anyone other than a cosmonaut/astronaut to get up there. Given NASA/The US Senate's obsession with SLS at the moment, it's quite possible that COTS and/or CCDEV will be gutted leaving no way for anyone to get up there and do research before the ISS ends in 2020.

    Let's hope the Chinese are able to offer better access...

  16. Beachrider

    We can hope about the Chinese...

    I hope that the Chinese can find answers about making-space-easier, too. They just don't have a long accomplishment record to make you believe that they will hit these timelines.

    If you don't think that the EU will fund the ESA, why castigate the USA for only-funding NASA three-times as much (with a smaller economy) now? The Russians don't even get sufficient respect from the EU press, and Russia's funding (vs its GDP) is about 15 times the EU investment) .The repeated slaughter of SLS/MPCV on these pages flies in the face of past accomplishments by NASA and frustrated-commitment to bet-the-ranch on China. That's no way to convince Washington to pour more dough into NASA or (MUCH more on-topic) Brussels into the ESA.

    I want SpaceX to pursue space, independent of the wild swings in American politics, too. SpaceX would be subject to the wild-swings of the American economy, though. They also are severely ramping-up their tech and will have dropouts like the non-launch to the ISS in February (now looking like April). It is important to note the the lack of American tech to ferry folks to the ISS is largely because of problems with COTS providers (i.e. SpaceX). The Shuttle bridged with 2 more years of service, but it was consuming NASA's budgets to keep warming over the 1970s technology (and cost suppositions).

  17. Kharkov

    Funding issues

    While I don't think the EU will fund ESA properly, I certainly think they SHOULD.

    NASA should get more funding too but I don't think they will. NASA's past accomplishments, while noteworthy, the Apollo program being only one thing amongst many that are worthy of praise, are largely past. Today, partly due to a perceived need to keep employing a majority of people associated with the shuttle (the arguement does have some merit) and due to Senators/Congressmen working to keep jobs in their States/Districts (again, some merit there), NASA has committed itself to SLS.

    We don't need to get into this again but SLS IS very, very expensive, particularly when compared to the upcoming Falcon Heavy (less than 12 months to go as oppossed to roughly 6 years for SLS) and is highly likely to get the funding pulled before SLS-1 flies - The amount of money spent on SLS will be often quoted and thrown around as the first flight (SLS-1) approaches. If Elon Musk puts a Falcon Heavy with a Raptor Upper Stage and a Dragon capsule with 3-5 astronauts on the pad with a banner flying that says "<250 million dollars to launch this!" then that will be the end of SLS.

    All that money spent for nothing when the Mars program, the Outer Planets Exploration program and others could have gone ahead.

  18. Beachrider

    Soooo, all that planetary work wasn't 'worthy of praise'

    I don't know where-to-start on this. Praise for the planetary exploration is well deserved.

    ... how about Falcon-heavy doesn't do Deepspace tasks, because it is RP-1.

    It would get a heavy load to LEO, but has NO ability to maneuver. ISS has a 'catching arm' because the maneuvering capability of SpaceX RP-1s is less than (30-year-old) Russian Progress or the Shuttle. Think about how-big the catching mitt would have to be for a Falcon-Heavy payload!

    Things like J-2x would be needed to assemble stuff in LEO. Even SpaceX agrees with THAT. They have a paper on 'raptor' (which might be like J-2x, but you really cannot tell), but no project and no dates.

    I am OK with getting cheaper rockets. But SLS is a NONCOMMITED heavy-lift system that can maneuver in space, IF they get their costs down.

    1. Kharkov

      Here we go again...

      'one thing amongst many worth of praise' NOT 'the ONLY thing worth of praise'.

      Falcon Heavy doesn't have to do deepspace tasks. Given its very low costs, it can deliver the ship (possibly in pieces) that can maneuvre. Yes, a tug or the ISS would be needed for this.

      IF SLS can get its costs down? Down to what? The first one to fly will, in the public's eye, have an 18-billion dollar pricetag attached to it (3 billion a year for 6 years) or 41 billion for the first 4 SLS rockets (10 point something billion each) or 3 billion dollars or, maybe, the beancounters will cost it at one billion.

      While Falcon Heavy flies at around 100 MILLION...

  19. Beachrider

    If you go back 40 years for the praiseworthy item...

    Picking a not-at-all-recent item casts the aspersion that was problematic. Not complex really...

    If am talking about IF. You restate the premise and argue with your version. You can do that, but it doesn't engage the comment.

    SLS must cost less than whatever-else would otherwise-do the job of getting MPCV to its deepspace targets.

    It IS obtusely nebulous, but there will be a comparison. NASA doesn't see a need to build another RP-1 rocket. Between Roscosmos and COTS, they think we have enough RP-1 options.

    SLS is LOX/LH2-based. They are NOT cheaper than RP-1 when RP-1 is sufficient technology. I infer that NASA will compare 'whatever' on the basis of SLS vs RP-1+something.

    Fair enough?

  20. Kharkov

    In 2018, compare...

    Falcon Heavy + Merlin 2 engines plus whatever upper stage or BEO ship (or half a BEO ship, to be assembled/mated/combined in orbit) lifted into orbit for less than 200 million dollars - WIN.

    SLS plus whatever upper stage or BEO ship (perhaps to be assembled in orbit - see above) lifted into orbit for...

    which price tag? The current 18 billion one (10 billion for SLS, 6 billion for Orion, 2 billion for infrastructure upgrades)? That has a very high chance of being the figure bandied about come launch time. Just 10 billion? 3 billion? One billion?

    Whichever pricetag - TOO EXPENSIVE.

    And NASA? Past achievements notwithstanding, their management has consistently failed to bring in a project at the budgeted figure, their organisation has been turned into a jobs program that is devoted to building something that will probably be cancelled before the first flight, acheiving nothing but the enrichment of a few aerospace firms.

  21. Beachrider

    Two in a row with 'nothing good has happened in 40 years'

    The robotic missions simply defuse your points completely. You are absolutely a denier of NASA's current budgetary approach.

    You keep talking like everything-is-set for 2018. It isn't.

    Orion is about deepspace (shielding, mission-length, circuit -design, everything). Orion is cancellable IF something else turns up. The amount committed is 0.4 Bn (not your 6 Bn). You are presuming that something else (Dragon? Soyuz?) can do all of this at zero cost. Incorrect.

    The infrastructure improvements cannot be ADDED to SLS+Orion, it is taken OUT of those budgets (your number is the maximum allowed to be taken out over 8 years). The committed cap is 0.3 Billion in 2012, it will be less.

    10 Billion for SLS isn't guaranteed. Only 1.86 is. They will be renewed on a plan to consume more, so long as the most-efficient-label can be applied. SpaceX already has 1.6 Bn for developing Falcon + Dragon.

    I hope Musk 'hits' the 80-125 Mn launch cost, but there is no written documentation of how he does that. It was simply a verbal-thing at a major press conference. Even then, Falcon-heavy will only-deliver 50 Metric tons where SLS delivers 130. We need to see this one play-out before we retire SLS-development. We are only waiting for one/two-more years, though. That is why the SLS contract has short-term commitments.

  22. Zot
    Thumb Up

    Good luck to them,

    and I look forward to seeing the films and photos they bring back.

    A hovering shot over the American lander remains would be nice. But the moon landing disbelievers will still think it's fake!

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