Judging by the photos shown during a presentation at the Nanjing University of Science and Technology by the chief designer of the Long March family launch system rockets, Dr. Long Lehao, China began the construction of the first prototype of the Long March 9 rocket, which should deliver taikonauts to the Moon.

In the photo, you can see the already assembled fuel tank of the Long March 9 rocket with a diameter of 10.6 m. We will remind you that the diameter of the SpaceX Starship is only 9 m.

Long March is a family of Chinese expendable launch system rockets that has been in development for over 50 years and serves almost all space missions of the People’s Republic of China. The first rocket of the series, Long March 1, was developed on the basis of the DF-4 ballistic missile, and it launched the first Chinese satellite Dong Fang Hong 1 into space on April 24, 1970.

Currently, Long March 2C/D/F, Long March 3A/B/C, Long March 4B/C, Long March 5/5B, Long March 6/6A, Long March 7/7A, Long March 8 and Long March 11 launch system rockets are used for various missions. Long March 9 and Long March 11 are still in development.

Long March 9: China begins construction of a launch vehicle larger than SpaceX’s Starship

The future Long March 9 follows the design of the SpaceX Starship and has almost the same parameters. The height of Long March 9 is 114 m, and the weight is 4,369 tons. The rocket will be able to launch a payload of up to 150 tons into low Earth orbit, or deliver a ship weighing up to 54 tons to the Moon.

According to the latest version of the design presented in Nanjing, the first stage of the Long March 9 has 30 methane-oxygen engines with a thrust of 200 tons, the second stage has 2 of the same engines. The optional third stage is equipped with one YF-91 hydrogen-oxygen engine with a thrust of 1.2 MN. The first stage of Long March 9 will be reusable.

Long March 9: China begins construction of a launch vehicle larger than SpaceX’s Starship

According to the space exploration plans of the People’s Republic of China, the first flight of the Long March 9 launch vehicle will take place around 2030. And the landing on the moon is planned for the middle of 2030.

Conspiracy theorists say that China received from the russians drawings of the Soviet N-1 moon rocket, the development of which was closed in 1974, but this is an outright delusion. Why does the PRC need plans for a failed rocket from 50 years ago, if China is already ahead of russia in space research and the variety and reliability of launch vehicles?!