What is so special about the Long march 9 rockets?

The YF-79 powered Long March 9 rockets, which are still under development, will be one of the world’s most powerful launch vehicles ever build. China’s Long March rocket series is already a very successful and reliable series of launch vehicles, that have been developed and upgraded through meticulous technological advancements and taking inspiration from other leading competitors, and China aims to take it further by making their rockets reusable, doing so for the first time through their 9th installation of their family of rockets.

Features of the Long March 9

The Long March 9, also known as the Changzheng-9 (CZ-9) is a three-stage rocket with a first-stage core diameter of 10 metres and four engines clustered together. The rocket has been suggested in several variations, the largest of which being the CZ-9. The basic model features four extra liquid-fuel boosters connected to the core stage and can carry 140,000 kg of LEO payload. The CZ-9A variant, in addition to the basic type, has only two more rockets and a LEO payload capacity of 100,000 kg. Finally, there’s the CZ-9B, which has a 10-meter diameter core stage and a 50,000-kilogram LEO payload capacity. The CZ-9 will be capable of carrying a payload of up to 50 tonnes to the moon and up to 44 tonnes to Mars. The Long March 9’s planned payload capacities put it in the super heavy-lift launch vehicle category, and the rocket’s development programme was formally authorised by the Chinese government in 2021.  (More on China’s Long March rocket series here.)

Long March 9 and its YF-79 boosters

The YF-79 is a liquid cryogenic rocket engine with a closed expander cycle that burns liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. It is China’s fourth generation of upper stage cryogenic propellant engines. The Long March 9 rockets will be massive vehicles with a 10 metre diameter core and 5 metre side boosters, and China intends to make the entire rocket reusable, or at least a portion of it. With a 220-tonne-thrust supplement combustion cycle hydrogen-oxygen engine, the boosters will deliver a considerable increase in power. Once built, the 25-tonne expander cycle hydrogen-oxygen engine will be the most powerful of its kind in the world.

Plans for the Long March 9 in future

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) are developing rocket engines for future space missions. Three of the four engines are being developed for the next-generation super heavy-lift Long March 9 (CZ-9), the rocket at the centre of Chinese aspirations to put astronauts on the moon by 2030.

A Long March 9 rocket variant, also known as the 921 rocket, is a new type of heavy rocket that was supposed to make its first flight around 2030. The Long March 9 (CZ-9)’s manned carrier vehicle (currently nameless) will be similar to an American Saturn V human-rated spacecraft, but with Chinese features under modern conditions, and will be capable of carrying up to 50 tonnes of cargo to the moon or up to 44 tonnes to Mars. (More on China’s Mars Mission here.)

The CASC’s timetable for this year is somewhat ahead of the 40-rocket objective set for 2021, which the CASC exceeded last year by delivering 48 rockets into orbit. China had 55 launches in total, compared to 51 for the US, and they want to break their own records this year as well.(More on China’s plans for the future here.)

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