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China's most powerful rocket readies for mega payload mission to space station

China's most powerful carrier rocket, the Long March-5B (LM-5B), is ready to transport one of the key modules necessary to assemble the country's space station.

The rocket, developed on the basis of the design of the Long March-5, is the most powerful heavy-lift rocket in China and is primarily used for low-Earth-orbit launches.

With a length of 53 meters and over 1,000 tonnes of thrust for taking off, the rocket can carry 25 tonnes of spacecraft to the designated orbit, making Chinese rockets' payload capacity among the world's best.

"The Wentian lab module is even larger in size compared to the core module," said Huang Bing, deputy chief designer of the LM-5B carrier rocket at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).

"It's still within the payload capacity of the LM-5B, though," Huang said.

China's space station consists of one core module and two lab modules. Each module is massive and weighs over 20 tonnes. The LM-5B rocket uses multiple technological breakthroughs, including an extra-large fairing and high thrust, to take the spacecraft into orbit.

"The LB-5B boosts our low-Earth orbit capacity from eight tonnes to 25 tonnes. It paves the way for space station construction," Huang said.

The Wentian launch will be the third such launch for the LM-5B rocket. Its maiden flight was in May 2020, when it successfully brought China's new generation test manned spaceship into orbit. One year later, LM-5B embarked on a journey to construct China's first-ever space station from scratch by successfully sending the core module of the space station Tianhe into orbit.


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