China’s emulation of SpaceX designs for reusable Long March 9 Megarocket

Reusable missiles seem to be all the rage now – and China seems to be jumping on the trend. Corresponding SpaceNewsLiu Bing, director of the general design department at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, confirmed that the country’s newest rocket, the Long March 9, will feature a reusable first stage booster.

The announcement was big enough to get a reaction from Chief Twit (and Founder and CEO of SpaceX) Elon Musk, who tweeted:

As SpaceX has proven, reusing rockets can reduce launch costs by millions, freeing up funds for research, innovation, and (of course) more launches. Critics of NASA’s space launch system, which is due to debut whenever Artemis I launches, argue that the agency should have invested in building reusable rockets and launch systems, or at least sourced them from private companies. SpaceX and Blue Origin have made their rocket launches partially reusable, and others are beginning to follow suit. SpaceX’s spacecraft, which it hopes will one day carry humans to the moon, Mars and other parts of the solar system, will likely be the first in its class to be successfully launched as a fully reusable system

China’s move toward reusability is the most aggressive move yet in its attempt to dethrone American hegemony in space. The latest model of China’s Long March 9 has been redesigned with reuse in mind, swapping large engines for clusters of smaller ones. SpaceNews reports that the rocket will be ready for a test flight by 2030.

The ultimate goal, however, is full reusability – a goal that so far only seems to be within SpaceX’s reach. Starship could launch its first orbital flight test as early as next month. But it remains to be seen if this launch actually proves successful – especially given the many spectacular failures we’ve seen with the first several prototypes. China’s emulation of SpaceX designs for reusable Long March 9 Megarocket

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