Name: Chang Zheng-11 (CZ-11), or Long March 11 (LM-11) Type: Solid-propellant orbital launch vehicle Contractor: China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT, CASC First Academy) First Launch: 25 September 2015 Launch site: Jiuquan Status: Operational
The Long March 11 (Chang Zheng 11, or CZ-11) is a four-stage, solid-propellant, small-load launch vehicle, capable of placing up to 350 kg payload to 700 km Sun-Synchronous Orbit (SSO), or up to 700 kg to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The launcher has been designed with rapid-response capability, allowing it to be readied for launch within 24 hours.1 An improved variant will be capable of delivering 1,700 kg payload to orbit, and a sea-launched design has also been proposed. The launcher could also be turned into solid rocket boosters for a liquid-propellant heavy-lift orbital launch system.2
The CZ-11 has been developed by CALT (China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, or CASC First Academy). The solid rocket engines on the four stages of the launch vehicle have been developed by AASPT (Academy of Aerospace Solid Propulsion Technology, or CASC Fourth Academy).3 Concept development of the CZ-11 began around 2005 and the development began in 2010. The launch vehicle was initially developed as a commercial project solely funded by CASC and CALT, but later gained state sponsorship in December 2012. The launch vehicle made its maiden flight successfully on 25 September 2015.
Instead of conventional launch pad with service tower, the four-stage CZ-11 is carried inside a large canister launch tube carried on a wheeled transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle. The launch tube of the CZ-11 bears strong resemblance to that of the DF-31 (CSS-9) ICBM, which was also developed by CALT, leading to speculations about possible technological linkage between the two. The 120 t-thrust, 2 m-diameter engine on the first-stage of the CZ-11 was said to be the most powerful solid-propellant rocket engine ever developed by China.2
The basic variant CZ-11 is 20.8 m in length and 2.0 m in diameter, with a gross mass of 58 t and a lift-off thrust of 120 t. The launcher is capable of delivering 350 kg payload to 700 km SSO. CALT is currently developing an improved variant with a gross mass of 115 t and a 2.9 m-diameter payload fairing, capable of delivering 1,700 kg payload.4 In July 2017, CASC revealed that it was developing key technologies to allow a sea-based launch service using its solid-propellant launch vehicle, which could begin to offer commercial launch services as early as 2018.5
- CASC Official Site. 2015. 长征十一号. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.spacechina.com/n25/n146/n238/n12985/c1043817/content.html. [Accessed 24 August 2017].
- CASC Official Site. 2015. 一问“长十一”：为谁而生？. [ONLINE] Available at: http://zhuanti.spacechina.com/n1038285/c1040118/content.html. [Accessed 24 August 2017].
- CASC Official Site. 2017. 王健儒：每次成功都是新起点. [ONLINE] Available at: http://zhuanti.spacechina.com/n1574262/c1578754/content.html. [Accessed 24 August 2017].
- CASC Official Site. 2017. 长征十一号运载火箭开拓商业航天市场新思路. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.spacechina.com/n25/n144/n206/n214/c1707545/content.html. [Accessed 24 August 2017].
- 中国军网. 2017. 长征火箭今年将进行海上发射关键技术试验. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.81.cn/bqtd/2017-07/07/content_7666824.htm. [Accessed 24 August 2017].