[FPSPACE] CZ-2F/H - why?
phillipclark at btinternet.com
Fri Oct 24 15:27:57 EDT 2008
Recent Chinese statements are suggesting that the next series of piloted Shenzhou spacecraft will use the "CZ-2F/H" vehicle - maybe to be called the CZ-2H in reality - but I find the details rather puzzling.
First, the CZ-2H will use LOX/kerosene rather than N2O4/UDMH and use the YF-100 engines which have been designed for the much larger CZ-5 launch vehicles: a single YF-100 on each of the four strap-ons, two on the first stage core and I assume one on the second stage core. This is such a major redesign that one should perhaps consider it to be a new class of launcher and not part of the CZ-2/CZ-3/CZ-4 family. Maybe it is really a technology development programme in support of the CZ-5 programme?
Second, the payload capability of the CZ-2H is about 12.5 tonnes in the piloted version, yet Shenzhou is only about eight tonnes. Even allowing for the sandwiches and other supplies needed to support a three-person visit to a space lab for about a month or so does not increase the mass of a Shenzhou by 50% or more.
So, why is the CZ-2H vehicle actually required? The existing CZ-2F and planned CZ-2G are more than sufficient for he space lab programme.
Of course, the introduction of the CZ-2H will mean that unmanned test flights will have to be flown before the first crew is launched atop it. I wonder how soon the maiden unmanned flight will be?
Still scratching my head about this vehicle!
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