Despite much rhetoric claiming that China will soon sent taikonauts to the Moon, Aviation Week reports that China doesn't even have an engine close to capable of launching a vehicle on a lunar mission.
With no engine producing more thrust than the 120-metric-ton (260,000-lb.) YF-100, China is still far behind other countries in space propulsion, AAPT engineers Li Ping, Li Bin and Zou Yu told the Asian Joint Conference on Propulsion and Power here on March 2-3. “The thrust requirement of future Chinese heavy or super-heavy launch vehicles is on the order of 4,000-7,000 kn [900,000-1,570,000 lb., about 400-700 tons]” per engine, the officials write in the paper, part of which was also published last year, attracting little attention.
Such an engine would represent a technical and economic challenge ... CALT has said that a Moon rocket would need 3,000 tons (6.6 million lb.) of thrust at liftoff.