The stages would be combined and clustered to achieve a wide range of payload capabilities:
|Upper Stages Stages||1||none||none||1||none||none|
|Lift-off mass (tonnes)||373||944||802||1,018||1,583||2,219|
|Lift-off thrust (kN)||4 x 1,200||12 x 1,200||8 x 1,200|
+2 x 490*
|12 x 1,200||20 x 1,200||28 x 1,200|
|Payload LEO (tonnes)||11||22||30||38||48||70|
* The B vehicle unusually used two of the Lox/LH2 engines to supplement the main engines.
Like Chelomei's UR-700 vehicles, the core booster engines would ignite at lift-off but initially use propellants from the lateral booster stages. At jettison of the lateral stages, the connections would be closed, allowing the core booster to proceed with the next burn with full propellant tanks.
The stages were sized at 4.5 m diameter to allow rail transport from the factory to the launch site at Jiuquan. Lateral clustering of the boosters allowed the height of the vehicle to be kept at no more than 60 m.
The drawings of the rockets provided show an upper stage with dimensions that are not consistent with the use of Lox/LH2 in the usual Western oxidiser:fuel ratio of 6:1. Either the upper stage actually is wider than indicated (e.g. 5.4 m to match the payload shroud of the larger versions) or some exotic cryogenic propellant technologies were envisioned (slush hydrogen, oxygen-rich off-optimum propellant use). The upper stage was equipped with a guidance section and a storable propellant engine unit for on-orbit manoeuvring and restart of the main engine. Therefore it could form the basis for a trans-lunar or deep space injection stage for the Type E vehicle.
The original Project 921 proposal was issued by the Shanghai Astronautics Bureau in October 1993 for inclusion in the Eight and Ninth Five Year Economic Plans. Shanghai proposed the development of six large carrier rockets and eight new spacecraft. But the plan was not approved in its entirety. The program for the new liquid oxygen and kerosene rockets was delayed, and resources were put instead into the development of large solid motors for military use. The Project 921-1 spacecraft was approved for launch on a modification of the storable-propellant CZ-2E, called CZ-2F.
However the new Vertical Assembly Building built at Jiuquan was sized to handle vehicles of the new modular series. Basic research work continued on the new launch vehicle. The new Lox/Kerosene engines could possibly incorporate licensed Russian technology (the engine parameters are similar to those of the NK-33 licensed in the USA to Kistler). Therefore it seems likely that production of modern boosters of this type may be authorised later in the 21st Century, when economic conditions permit - or in support of a Chinese lunar base.
LEO Payload: 11,000 kg (24,000 lb) to a 300 km orbit at 60.00 degrees.
Stage Data - Project 921
AKA: China Type E.
Status: Design 1992.
Gross mass: 373,000 kg (822,000 lb).
Payload: 11,000 kg (24,000 lb).
Height: 55.00 m (180.00 ft).
Diameter: 4.50 m (14.70 ft).
Thrust: 4,801.00 kN (1,079,307 lbf).
Apogee: 300 km (180 mi).