China to use modified rocket for moon landing mission
A rocket expert said Friday that China has developed a modified model of the Long March-3B carrier rocket for an upcoming moon landing mission to be completed by the Chang'e-3 moon orbiter.
The orbiter's structure and size are considerably different than those of its predecessors, requiring some modifications for its carrier rocket, according to Liang Xiaohong, Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
With its improved design, the modified carrier rocket's reliability has been increased and its carrying capacity has been boosted by 30 kg, Liang said.
Liang said the new design will allow the Chang'e-3 to take advantage of more launch windows in comparison to the Chang'e-2.
A launch window is a specific period of time when a spacecraft or rocket can be launched on a particular mission.
The Chang'e-3 will be able to take advantage of two daily launch windows for three to four consecutive days, Liang said.
The new model also features combined guidance technology and real-time video feeds that allow for monitoring of the rocket's key operations, Liang said.
The Chang'e-3 is scheduled to be launched in the latter half of the year.