China to Debut its Most Powerful Space Rocket-Long March 12-This Year

Long March 12's first flight is set for June at the Hainan Launch Center.
  • bureau
  • 06:32 AM, February 27, 2024
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China to Debut its Most Powerful Space Rocket-Long March 12-This Year
China's Long March-2F Y12 carrier rocket and Shenzhou-12 spacecraft @via Chinese media

China is on track to debut the Long March 12, its most powerful space rocket, later this year.

Structural designer Zeng Wenhua from the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology confirmed the completion of the research and development stage for this latest addition to the Long March family.

Currently undergoing testing at the academy, the Long March 12 is scheduled for its maiden flight at the Hainan International Commercial Aerospace Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan province, which is set to begin formal operations in June.

Distinguished by its 3.8-meter diameter, wider than most Chinese rockets, and standing at over 60 meters tall with two stages, the Long March 12 is propelled by six liquid oxygen-kerosene-fueled engines. It is designed to transport spacecraft with a combined weight of about 10 metric tons to a low-Earth orbit or six tons of satellites to a typical sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700 kilometers, according to Zeng Wenhua.

"The Long March 12 incorporates new technologies, ensuring high reliability and multiple functions. Its service will significantly enhance our country's capability to send spacecraft to a sun-synchronous orbit and deploy multi-satellite networks in low orbits," said Zeng Wenhua.

With a track record of developing and launching over 20 types of Long March-series rockets, 16 of which are currently in active service, the Long March family remains integral to China's space programs, having successfully completed more than 500 launch missions.

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