The launching crew training rocket of Long March 5 was displaced at the assembly workshop. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
Batch production of Long March 5 has begun, said Meng Fanxin, manager of the industrialized base for the carrier rocket in Tianjin.
Known as the Long March 5, China's most powerful heavy-lift launch vehicle is expected to make its first test flight from Hainan's Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in November.
In the meantime, its manufacturing base in the northern port city of Tianjin is producing the second one.
"Right now, we possess the ability to batch produce rockets with diameter of both 3.35 meters and 5 meters," Meng said.
The base, which covers 2 million square meters and was built in 2008, is run by Tianjin Long March Launch Vehicle Manufacturing Co, a State-owned company that conducts research and development, manufacturing and assembly of China's latest carrier rockets.
"From structure to power, from material to technique, the manufacture of Long March 5 was a first for everything. Luckily, we have the best people," Meng said at a news conference last week.
"More than 100 people worked for half a year to make the rocket a reality. Creativity was the key to overcoming many difficulties along the journey," said Huang Xiaochun, vice director of the company's assembly workshop, who has been in the industry for 11 years.
"For example, the rocket was placed horizontally on a bracket in the workshop. Working on a round-shaped container at a height of 6 meters required more energy and greater safety measures, so we got creative and made a 'rotisserie'," Huang said.
"What that means is that the rocket was rotated so the technicians could work on the ground," Huang explained.
"The debut of Long March 5 marks Tianjin's next major step in the manufacturing of carrier rockets," Meng said.
"This first launch is the result of direct cooperation between the base, local private processing and Tianjin Sino-German University of Applied Sciences. Later, Tianjin University will also finance research for a new model," Meng said.
In the future, the base will not only manufacture the second model of Long March 5, Long March 7 and other rockets from the Long March family, such as CZ-3A, but will also conduct research and development of brand new models.