Space: October 20, 2000


China is developing new space boosters to loft more powerful military satellites as well as gain a larger share in the launch services market. The current Long March 2E can put 9.6 metric tons into Low Earth Orbit, but it will be replaced next year by the Long March 2EA which can lift 11.8 metric tons. The increase comes from larger solid boosters, which reach to the top of the first stage rather than half that far on the Long March 2E. Even so, this is not in the same class as French, US, Japanese, and Russian boosters designed to loft 20 tons or more. The Chinese are working on a new booster, which will be 55 meters high, weigh 800 metric tons, and will be able to push 23 tons into Low Earth Orbit or 11 tons into geostationary transfer orbit. China is also developing a new solid-fuel light booster able to orbit small (300kg) satellites and is upgrading the LM-1 launcher into the LM-1D which can put 400kg into an 800km orbit. --Stephen V Cole


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