China’s very powerful rocket to build space-based solar power station

China’s very powerful rocket to build space-based solar power station

China intends to utilize a new very heavy-lift rocket presently under development. This is in order to build a huge space-based solar power station in geostationary orbit.

Various launches of the impending Long March 9 rocket would be utilized to construct space-based solar power facilities. This is 35,786 kilometers above the Earth, as per Long Lehao. He is the head designer of China’s Long March rocket series.

The project would strive to determine a large collecting area getting solar energy near continuously. This is without the atmosphere or seasonal changes influencing energy levels. Transferred energy would be then spread to Earth via microwaves or lasers. The project would offer large-scale renewable energy and assist tackle energy resource shortages.

The project, as per Long, would start with a small-scale electricity generation test in 2022, heading to a megawatt-level power generation facility near 2030.

Commercial, gigawatt-level power generation would have realization by 2050. This would involve more than 100 Long March 9 launches and around 10,000 tons of infrastructure, assembled in orbit. The intricate project demands a solar energy collection system with an area on the order of square kilometers and a large microwave power transmission sub-system.

Qi Faren is another senior space figure and head designer of the Shenzhou spacecraft also speaks of the intricate megaproject and its probable value a day earlier.

Both Long and Qi however note major tasks including

  • Economic feasibility
  • Manufacturing costs
  • Efficiency and safety of energy transmission

Space-based solar power plans have earlier been into consideration by countries including –

  • The United States
  • Japan

China registered space-based solar power as a crucial research program in 2008, as per Xinhua. The China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) in 2019 began constructing a test base in Chongqing Municipality for exploring high-power wireless energy transmission.

New path for Long March 9?

The release vehicle line up to do the heavy lifting is the Long March 9. The catapult gained formal government authorization this spring, following years of research and technology advancement. Yet the design may have seen the latest radical changes, as per the speech from Long.

One slide specifies the old plan of the Long March 9—containing a 10-meter-diameter core stage with four five-meter-diameter side boosters. This is using 500-ton-thrust, dual-nozzle YF-130 engines. It is to be substituted by a vision for a single, 10.6-meter-diameter core powered by a cluster of 16 new, single-nozzle YF-135 engines.

Payload capability would grow from 140 metric tons to Low Earth orbit (LEO) to 150 tons, from 50 tons to trans-lunar injection (TLI) to 53 tons. A two-stage edition would unveil to LEO while the three-stage variant would serve greater orbits.


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