Touting China’s space power during a June 23, 2020 Hong Kong University lecture, 82-year-old senior rocket designer Long Lehao revealed a new design for the Long March-9 super heavy space launch vehicle.
/ July 2, 2021
By Richard Fisher
For the Chinese Communist Party, the July 1, 2021 100th anniversary of its founding has been an opportunity to wallow in its favorite cult: the worship of its own power.
This is what the Party lives for, to accumulate ever more power: military power; power over the individual; over ethnic groups; power over threatening democracies like that of Taiwan; power over nature; and power over the heavens or outer space.
An accumulation of space power has particularly suited the CCP as it has allowed for the decades-long consistent showcasing of loyal engineers and now astronauts who always produce new technology victories that validate the increasing power of the CCP.
In return, the CCP accords lofty hero status on its top engineers who devote their lives to building the CCP’s power.
Constantly promoted by CCP-controlled state media, such heroes are household names in China, like Qian Xuesen, who was a pioneering rocket scientist in the United States before falling under suspicion for harboring loyalties to the CCP revolution, traded back to the PRC in 1955, after which he then led Communist China’s missile program.
The latest generation of senior space engineer heroes is exemplified by 82-year-old Dr. Long Lehao, former Vice President of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) who designed the Long March-3 space launch vehicle (SLV) and then from 2004 to 2009 as the deputy chief designer of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.
As part of the buildup to the CCP’s 100th anniversary, Long Lehao and 88-year-old Qi Faren, designer of the Shenzhou spaceship were part of a six-scientist delegation sent on a four-day visit to Hong Kong where they lectured at Hong Kong University on June 23.
Long Lehao provided new details about the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) Long March-9 (LM-9) super heavy SLV.
Previously, the 10-meter diameter LM-9 used four 5-meter diameter side booster stages and an eight-engine first stage to lift 140 tons to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and 50 tons to the Moon.
But Long Lehao revealed a new version with a 16-engine first stage, no side boosters, that can loft 150 tons to LEO and 53 tons to the Moon.
The engine configuration of the first stage means that a small number of engines will be available for re-ignition to return it to Earth for re-use, similar to the 100 ton to LEO payload SpaceX Starship.
Long Lehao also confirmed that China would attempt to put people on the Moon before 2030.
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