Space engineers have made a key step in designing a new generation launch vehicle that could help start China's manned lunar exploration program, according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
A pre-study for the carrier rocket, conducted by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) under the CASC, has passed a review by the China Manned Space Agency.
The research, started in 2017, has produced an initial blueprint for the rocket, which will be about 87 meters long and have a takeoff weight of about 2,200 tonnes.
It could carry payloads of more than 25 tonnes to the lunar transfer orbit and would have a new escape system to improve astronaut safety.
As well as the mature engine and the highly reliable flight control technologies of the Long March-5 and Long March-7 carrier rockets, production of the rocket would feature advanced manufacturing technologies and new materials.
A detailed plan to develop the carrier rocket is now on the drawing board, according to the CASC.
It has been reported that China is pushing forward the pre-study of a manned lunar landing program.
Currently, China's largest carrier rocket has a payload capacity of about 8 tonnes to the lunar transfer orbit. The manned lunar landing program needs a more powerful and reliable new generation manned launch vehicle.