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Long March 5B rolls to launchpad, carrying China’s next large space station module

Long March 5B being rolled to launch site
Long March 5B being rolled to launch site

China’s big Long March 5B rocket was successfully rolled to its launch site yesterday in preparation for a July 24, 2022 launch that will put China’s next large space station module, Wentian, into orbit.

The Wentian module, with a launch weight near 44,000 pounds (20 metric tons), will dock with the Tianhe core module on China’s Tiangong station in low Earth orbit. Chinese astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe living on the Tiangong complex will monitor Wentian’s arrival, then become the first crew members to float into the station’s new module.

The launch this weekend will add the second of three large pressurized modules needed to complete the initial construction of the Tiangong space station. The Tianhe core module launched on a Long March 5B rocket in April 2021, and Chinese ground teams are preparing the Mengtian module for launch on a Long March 5B rocket in October.

The big question mark however concerning this upcoming launch is the central core stage of the Long March 5B, seen in the picture above surrounded by four strap-on boosters with Wentian stacked on top. In all previous Long March 5B launches, that core stage reached orbit, deployed its payload, and then crashed to Earth uncontrolled because its main engines could not be restarted. Will this core stage do the same?

The name of this particular Long March 5B also carries with it a new suffix, “Y3”. In the past when the Chinese added letters to a name it was because the rocket had been changed or upgraded in some manner. Furthermore, in March China did some static fire engine tests of what were suggested to be new engines for the core stage.

Developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the engine is designed for the core stage of the Long March-5 carrier rocket series, which will be used to launch two lab modules of China’s orbiting Tiangong space station this year.

The long-range test, lasting 520 seconds, has verified the reliability of the engine, and there will be more than 20 experimental tasks that the rocket engine will undergo to further test its performance, the company disclosed.

Based on this meager information, it appears that China might have upgraded the core stage’s engines so they can be restarted and the stage’s de-orbit can be controlled so it crashes over the ocean, not over some random point of inhabited land. We shall have to wait until after the launch on July 24th to find out.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!

 

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

 
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.

 

“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.

 

All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.

 

Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

8 comments

  • Col Beausabre

    LOOK OUT BELOW!

  • So much for All-Indian Used Rockets and Recovery.

  • Concerned

    I posted this before, but it bears repeating. Language and nomenclature have meaning—oftentimes deep meaning. Our enemies, both foreign and domestic, are acutely aware of this fact…….

    I have one beef about referring to these rockets as “Long March”. Sure, it’s the name the native builders gave it, but our usage of it commemorates and dignifies a murderous rise to power of a regime with a long history of killing that continues to this day. It would be like the Germans building an orbital rocket and calling it Mein Kampf 1. NATO had a good convention of attaching code names to the scores of Soviet rockets built during the Cold War. One of my favorites was referring to the powerful nuclear SS-18 as the Satan missile. Given the Chicoms well-documented history of stealing our missile technology over the years, I suggest we stop referring to the Long March family, and start calling a member, for example, Shoplifter 11.

  • Concerned: Just as I don’t play the language game the left demands (calling American Indians “native Americans” and cross-dressers “transgender”), I won’t play your game. This is the name the Chinese have given their rocket, for good or ill.

  • Jeff Wright

    CZ-5 then. The R-7 core block also followed Sputnik into space. It was that booster people mistook for the sat. Here, we have a much larger payload-and the booster still follows. That’s why I like hydrogen-it allows easier stage-and-a-half designs. They should have went half dry, half wet…at least for trash space. Or refill to push payloads out of LEO,

  • TallDave

    “over the ocean”

    Funny, I’ve never seen anyone spell “Taiwan” that way before.

  • James Street

    Rockets falling on their heads may be the least of the worries of the people of China. It continues to unravel. Things like this are not business as usual for the godless Chicom commie:

    Wall Street Silver @WallStreetSilv
    *** Breaking news ***
    Tanks are being put on the streets in China to protect the banks.
    This is because the Henan branch of the Bank of China declaring that people’s savings in their branch are now ‘investment products’ and can’t be withdrawn.
    9:15 AM · Jul 20, 2022
    https://twitter.com/WallStreetSilv/status/1549790086656581640

  • As much time as SLS has spent commuting between the VAB and the pad, perhaps NASA should rename it ‘Long March’.

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