Maiden flight of new Chinese Long March 7 rocket was moved forward and it is possible that rocket will be launched in night on 25th June 2016. Launch was previously planned for 27th June 2016. Long March 7 will be launched from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, Hainan, China.
New Chinese rocket was delivered to Wenchang by “Yuan Wang-21” cargo ship on May 14, 2016, from Tianjin where it was delivered from Tianjin Aerospace Long March Rocket Manufacturing Co., Ltd. which belongs to China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). Rocket was put on trucks and delivered from port to Wenchang on May 16, 2016. Preparing for maiden flight started with unpacking rocket and general inspection. First launch date was set in the beginning of month for 27th June but on June 16, 2016 it was unveiled, not officially, that launch is possible two days earlier on 25th June 2016. Moving forward was probably linked with weather forecast for Wenchang, which predicted rains starting from 26th June; last day of good weather was 25th June. Assembling process was still in progress; experimental scaled model of capsule of future Chinese spacecraft was encapsulated and covered with payload fairing. Finally on June 21, 2016 at 08:00 GMT, rocket was rolled out from the facility and started passing 2100 m from VAB to launch pad on special rail platform. Rocket was transported in vertical position-delivering process to Launch Pad 201 placed on the east side of the Satellite Launch Center took 3 hours. According Zhang Zhengping from CALT, rocket is ready for final tests which will be performed on Launch Pad 201.
Long March 7 rocket was designed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation as medium sized launch vehicle able to fill the gap between larger Long March 5 and smaller Long March 6. It is based on Long March 2F with same core diameter at 3.35 m and diameter of liquid fueled boosters (2.25 m). Propulsion was changed for more environment friendly fueled with liquid oxygen and kerosene. Engines are identical as Long March 5; YF-100 engines are used for core and of each strap-on booster. Rocket is long for 53.1 m and weighs 594000 kg with possible LEO payload capacity of 13500 kg. Four boosters, each with one YF-100, will provide additional thrust for first stage equipped with two YF-100 engines. Each engine will give 1200 kN at sea level. Second stage will be powered by four YF-115 engines with thrust at 706 kN. Both engines are modern construction by Xi’an Aerospace Propulsion Institute and were designed since early 2000s as propulsion for Long March 7 and Long March 6 rockets.
Whole Wenchang city is preparing for maiden flight of Long March 7 and for next planned launches from Wenchang Satellite Center. Authorities took care to increase tourist attractiveness of the city and prepared various terraces and observation points for anyone who would like to see liftoff of the Long March 7 or any rocket in the future. Wenchang authorities would like to make profits from the proximity of the Satellite Launch Center and are investing in new hotels and motels.