New launcher to be vehicle for testing state-owned vertical landing and reuse plans.
HELSINKI — China has rolled out a Long March 8 to the pad for the first launch of a rocket that will later be adapted for vertical landing and reuse.
The Long March 8 was vertically transferred to the pad at the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Dec. 16. Airspace closure notices indicate a launch time between 11 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 19 and 2 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 20.
The launch may be the last action for China in a year that has seen the country’s first independent interplanetary mission, a test mission for space station launches and a lunar sample return, all launching from the new coastal Wenchang spaceport. China also conducted a secretive test flight of what was believed to be a fixed wing, reusable spaceplane.
The new Long March 8 has been developed based on China’s new-generation of kerosene and cryogenic rockets. It uses a pair of staged combustion YF-100 kerosene-liquid oxygen engines on the 3.35-meter-diameter core and a single YF-100 on each of two, 2.25-meter-diameter side boosters. The second stage is based on the 3-meter-diameter, liquid hydrogen-liquid oxygen second stage of the Long March 3A series of rockets.
The Long March 8 is designed to fill a gap in medium launch capabilities to Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) and missions to geosynchronous transfer orbits (GTO). Chinese media state the launcher can lift 5 tons of payload to GTO and 2.8 tons to SSO. Via – Space News