I watched this launch about 4 or 5 hours ago and was very impressed with the video coverage and the rocket. The 4 kerosene boosters where really neat. I mused about them being reusable and landing after they where jettisoned. I believe China is working towards that kind of reusability. The center core being fueled by clean hydrogen was very refreshing, shade of Spaceshuttle and SLS. It is interesting that they are flying a similar flight profile that the Apollo missions flew. I hope we get many live upxes of this mission and live transmissions from the moon. Seems like with Apollo there are lots of dangers along the way, technically very ambitious. That makes it all the more exciting! :-) We are headed back to the moon folks. A small scale apollo mission.
P.S. I'm disappointed not to see more comments here yet. This is exciting stuff!
Chang'e program has been a stellar success so far - exactly the kind of incremental engineering complexity build-up as it should be. Hoping this mission continues the trend, and really wish they had more resources to throw at it and go a lot of faster with follow-ups.
Note that they still have Chang'e-3 active on surface - that's pretty impressive, 7 years in.
The boosters are essentially 3.35 meter LM-7 first stages. Given that they have only 2 kerolox engines they really can't throttle down enough to successfully land. The LM-8 rocket that China is working on making reusable is something of an odd duck version of the LM-7. In order to propulsively land it is planned to have it carry two solid rocket boosters through the entire flight, these boosters are retained during landing in order to provide sufficient ballast for the two YF-100 engines to conduct a propulsive landing. Seems very inefficient compared with the 9 engine octaweb that SpaceX developed for the F9 which can throttle down to about 5% of max thrust on its single main engine to conduct a landing. Unless China develops a new booster with much smaller engines you'll never see the LM-5 boosters reused and its hard to see how the LM-8 will ever be anything more than a demonstrator.
That said China's proposed moon rocket which they recently revealed is a 5 meter rocket with two strap on stages and multiple kerolox engines similar to the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. So this rocket could be a useful reusable rocket similar to Falcon Heavy but there is no date for a first flight or even an official name yet. Whenever it is introduced it will likely replace the LM-5 with a single stick kerolox booster and the three booster heavy version used for lunar missions.
The CAST CZ-6X RLV supposed to fly in 2021. The 1st stage of CZ-6X would have potential application as reusable boosters for the CZ-5 and CZ-5B.
Compared to the single-engined CZ-6, the CZ-6X has two YF-100 engines like the CZ-7. CAST gets around the problem of the YF-100 engines being too powerful for vertical landing by adding a small pair of parallel YF-115 engines.
Nathaniel Torbjörn Larsson
I think the Moon is far more interesting if one takes the perspective that space should be part of our economic sphere, instead of a zone primarily for exploration and scientific research. Exploration for its own sake is not that interesting to me.
Which resources of the moon do we have demand for within the next 2 decades and which we can't get anywhere else cheaper?
I can only come up with real estate (telescopes, etc.) and tourism (it's THE moon).
What do I miss?
Vladislaw Torbjörn Larsson
"And it will never be a resource"
Incorrect. It will be a resource but you first have to go there and pick up a rock BEFORE you can claim ownership rights. That is why it was so important that President Obama signed that bill.
Having the ability to OWN a crater where a snowball crashed is going to be very important as a move forward. Where Richard and I disagree is in how we define exploration. We still do massive amounts of exploration right here on terra firma but the exploration is for resource extraction.
It will be same on Luna once there is mineral rights established on Luna and you can enter it into the account books as an asset.
I am from North Dakota and there is mineral rights for coal deposits that have been bought and sold for over a century. They simply sit in account books as an asset and not an ounce of coal has ever been mined from them. It will be the same for Luna as these rights slowly get codified into law.
Who cares about bringing back the gold as long as you have the mineral rights to the gold field and can put it in the ledger as an asset. Even once it is mined you will not have to bring it home. We will do what we did in California when those gold fields suffered the same problem of no transportation. They simply locked the gold into a steel box and hung a sign outside
We will do the same and do electronic banking and who owns how much when. Gold is used as a reserve and just sits in vaults and the only thing that changes is who owns how much.
The Chang’e-5 will be lading in a region that's rich in thorium. Someday lunar thorium will compete with uranium extracted from the Earth's oceans to supply fuel for nuclear reactors powering colonies on Mars.
Richard Seaton newpapyrus
And there is the dead giveaway that nobody is ever going to live on Mars. Due to no air and radiation it would be an underground existence. Due to not enough solar energy to power closed loop life support systems these tunnel communities would depend on nuclear power plants. What products will they "sell" to pay for their necessities? It is a joke. Not to mention that Martians would likely never be able to return to Earth after a certain number of years- or if they were born on Mars.
Space colonies, on the other hand, would have 1 gravity and travel to other artificial moons and nearby Earth would be commonplace, eventually with hundreds or thousands or tens of thousands of city sized habitats. The economic engine to start space colonization was envisioned by Gerard K. O'Neill: Space Solar Power. Which also happens to be the only solution to providing the energy for a western standard of living to the population of Earth carbon-free and thus solving climate change.
A Space Solar Power cislunar infrastructure would eventually enable beam-propelled single stage to orbit space-liners to begin decreasing Earth's population as more and more miles-in-diameter habitats are mass-produced. Until in a few centuries Earth is a sparsely populated pristine "adventure" destination and tens of billions live in space.
newpapyrus Richard Seaton
I suspect that adults will be fine living on the Moon and Mars-- as long as they do the appropriate amount of exercise. But I'm not so sure if it would be healthy for children to grow up in a hypogravity environment. Fortunately, developing into an adult comprises less than 20% of our average lifespan.
Both Mars habitats and O'Neill colonies are going to require appropriate radiation shielding. Three meters of water covering a transparent biosphere should be enough to protect humans from excess levels of cosmic radiation on the surface of Mars.
DigDug Richard Seaton
Both Mars and Venus could be Terraformed if we put our minds to it.
Two more planets we can overpopulate and ruin.
Why would you want to destroy the environments of these natural wonders. Mars is beautiful. And you could live in the skies of Venus, well above its toxic clouds.