China will take three steps to develop its space transportation system. For the first step, the existing carrier rocket will be improved. Second, a new generation of carrier rockets will be developed. And thirdly, an innovative space transportation system will be in place to meet the needs of China's space technology strategy and strengthen China's space power.
This is unveiled by Long Lehao, academician of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation on April 27.
Long said at an international seminar for space law in 2004 held in Beijing that for a considerably long time in the future, the existing Long March series would continue their mission of sending satellites to the space for domestic and foreign users, given the real condition and the space technology level of China. But improvement to the existing carrier rockets should be made to be up to the requirements of China's space application, manned space flight and moon probes and guarantee the competitiveness of China's carrier rockets in the international market for the next ten years. The upgrading project involves the structure of the rockets, electrical system and launch system. It will also bring down costs of rocket design, production and lift-up, improve the reliability and shorten launch cycle.
Research and development of a new generation of carrier rockets is underway, which is innoxious, pollution free and boasts high performance and low costs. When used, they will sharpen the competitiveness of China's carrier rockets and serve both domestic and international market in the next 20 to 30 years. Long said.
According to Long, the space transportation system for the future asks for a fast entry into the space, high mobility on orbit, long time flight on orbit and free re-entry and return. China will develop its own innovative space transportation system to sustain the development of its space carriers. China will hold core technologies to achieve a breakthrough in making reusable space carriers which represents the trend of the future space transportation system. China will make innovative efforts on some reusable carrier rockets, spacecrafts and air-land transportation system. Long thinks China should start with developing series two-stage to-orbit space transportation system.
The seminar, which was concluded on April 27, also disclosed that the timetable for the three stages, orbiting, landing and returning, of China's moon probe project had been set up.
The project, called "Chang'e ", will send a satellite "Chang'e I" to the moon in the first phase which will explore the lunar surface environment, topography, geologic structure and physical field. The second phase will develop and launch a spacecraft to the moon to take on exploration and auto-inspection, which will provide chemical and physical parameters for the selection of the site of the lunar base in the future. The third phase aims to make and lift up small sampling re-entry cabin, lunar surface sampling apparatus, and robot operation arms. Data offered by the samples and explorations taken by these equipment will be very useful to the manned moon probe and site location of a outpost station on the moon.
(People's Daily April 29, 2004)