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China aims its most powerful rocket ever AT THE MOON

100 ton-slinging heavy thruster for manned missions

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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 Technology, told China Daily that the research took about two years to complete and details a heavy lift carrier rocket with a lift-off thrust of 3,000 metric tons. NASA's mighty Saturn V, as used by the Apollo programme, was capable of 3,400 metric tons.

The Chinese challenger will be able to send a payload of 100 metric tons into low-Earth orbit, Xiaohong added.

If built, the rocket would be a significant step up from China’s most powerful current launcher – Long March-5. This has a lift-off thrust of 1,000 metric tons and can send a 25 metric ton object into low-Earth orbit.

"If approved (by the government), the heavy-thrust carrier rocket will be able to meet the demands of any proposed Chinese mission in space," Liang told the Daily.

“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.”

This weekend the China Daily reported that the Long March-5 and Long March-7 rockets would be ready for their respective maiden flights in 2014 and “within the next five years”.

The People’s Republic is also expected to establish its own space lab and manned space station in the next decade, as its extra-terrestrial ambitions gather pace, the reports suggested.

Much of this expansion is designed with the primary purpose of fulfilling strategic military and commercial interests. ®

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