According to Jing Muchun, chief engineer for the carrier rocket system of China’s manned space program, China is developing a new generation of high thrust carrier rockets to support the construction a space station. ”The building of a space station requires carrier rockets with greater thrust,” said Muchun, “ as each capsule of the station will weigh about 20 tonnes.”
The Tiangong-1, first experimental space station module, was launched on September 29, 2011, ontop of a Long March-2FT1 carrier rocket. Song Zhengyu, Jing’s deputy, said the Long March-5 and Long March-7, the new generation of carrier rockets, will be ready for testing around 2014. The technologies applied to new generation of rockets, featuring green propellant and digital control, will mature by 2021, and will replace the existing Long March 2, 3 and 4 sequentially.