The Long March 2F (Chinese: 长征二号F火箭 Changzheng 2F), also known as the CZ-2F, LM-2F and Shenjian,[1] is a Chinese orbital carrier rocket, part of the Long March 2 rocket family. Designed to launch crewed Shenzhou spacecraft, the Long March 2F is a human-rated two-stage version of the Long March 2E rocket, which in turn was based on the Long March 2C launch vehicle.[2] It is launched from complex SLS at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. The Long March 2F made its maiden flight on 19 November 1999, with the Shenzhou 1 spacecraft. After the flight of Shenzhou 3, CPC General Secretary and President Jiang Zemin named the rocket 'Shenjian' meaning 'Divine Arrow'.[3]

On 15 October 2003, a Long March 2F launched Shenzhou 5, China's first human spaceflight. It has since launched the Shenzhou 6, Shenzhou 7, Shenzhou 9, Shenzhou 10 and Shenzhou 11 missions into orbit.[4][5]

Differences from the Long March 2E

Externally, the rocket is similar to the Long March 2E from which it was derived. Most of the changes involve the addition of redundant systems to improve safety, although there are some structural modifications that allow the rocket to support the heavier fairing required by the Shenzhou capsule. The rocket is also capable of lifting heavier payloads with the addition of extra boosters to the first stage.[6]

The rocket also has an "advanced fault monitoring and diagnosis system to help the astronauts escape in time of emergency" (in other words, a launch escape system), and is the first Chinese made rocket to be assembled and rolled out to its launch site vertically.[7]

A derivative called Long March 2F/G, first launched in 2011, was designed to launch space laboratories such as Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2. It dispenses with the launch escape system and sports a larger fairing to accommodate the bulkier payloads.[8]

Vibration issues

During the Shenzhou 5 flight, Yang Liwei became unwell due to heavy vibrations from the rocket. Although the problem was reduced somewhat by modifications to the rocket, vibrations were reported again in Shenzhou 6 necessitating further changes. According to Jing Muchun, chief designer of the Long March 2F "We made changes to the pipelines of the rocket engine, adjusting its frequency. A new design for the pressure accumulator produced evident results. The vibration has now been reduced by more than 50 percent." [9]

The predecessor Long March 2E had also been known for vibration. During two launches, excessive vibration caused the collapse of the payload fairing, destroying the Optus B2 and Apstar 2 satellites.[10] After the payload fairing was redesigned, excessive vibration also damaged the AsiaSat 2 satellite during launch. The Long March 2E was withdrawn from the geostationary launch market a year later.[11]

Launch history

Flight number Date (UTC) Launch site Payload Orbit Result Remarks
1 November 19, 1999
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 1 LEO Success First unmanned test of the Shenzhou spacecraft
2 January 9, 2001
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 2 LEO Success Second unmanned test of the Shenzhou spacecraft, carried live animals
3 March 25, 2002
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 3 LEO Success Third unmanned test of the Shenzhou spacecraft
4 December 29, 2002
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 4 LEO Success Final unmanned test of the Shenzhou spacecraft
5 October 15, 2003
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 5 LEO Success China's first crewed spaceflight
6 October 12, 2005
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 6 LEO Success Second crewed spaceflight, first with two astronauts
7 September 25, 2008
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 7 LEO Success First flight with three crew members, first to feature extra-vehicular activity
8 September 29, 2011
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Tiangong 1 LEO Success The first Chinese space station. Modified version Long March 2F/G with larger payload fairing[8]
9 October 31, 2011
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 8 LEO Success Unmanned spaceflight to test automatic rendezvous and docking with Tiangong-1
10 June 16, 2012
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 9 LEO Success Three crew members, to test rendezvous and docking with Tiangong-1
11 June 11, 2013
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 10 LEO Success Three crew members; rendezvous and docking with Tiangong-1
12 September 15, 2016
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Tiangong 2 LEO Success Second Chinese space laboratory Tiangong-2, launched by 2F/G variant
13 October 16, 2016
LA-4/SLS-1, JSLC Shenzhou 11 LEO Success Two crew members;[12] rendezvous and docking with Tiangong-2 for a 30-day mission.


  1. ^ a b c d e Mark Wade. "CZ-2F". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 2008-05-02. 
  2. ^ "LM-2F - Launch Vehicle". CGWIC. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  3. ^ "CZ". Astronautix.com. Archived from the original on 2009-06-11. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  4. ^ "China to launch Shenzhou-7 spacecraft on Thursday". news.xinhuanet.com. English Xinhua. 2008-09-24. Archived from the original on 2009-07-05. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  5. ^ "China's Shenzhou 11 blasts off on space station mission". BBC. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016. 
  6. ^ "Long March 2F - Summary". Spaceandtech.com. 1999-11-20. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  7. ^ [1] Archived May 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  8. ^ a b Jones, Morris (2016-01-27). "Last Launch for Long March 2F/G". Space Daily. Retrieved 2016-04-07. The principal difference between the Shenzhou-launching Long March 2F and its 2F/G cousin is easy to spot. The 2F/G carries a very different payload fairing at its top. This accounts. for the larger dimensions of the Tiangong laboratory, which wouldn't fit inside the standard payload fairing for the 2F.
    It also lacks an emergency escape system. With no astronauts on board, the escape rocket and stabilizer panels that help Shenzhou spacecraft to separate from their rocket in a launch failure are not needed. This simplifies the design and also reduces the weight of the rocket. That's critical. Tiangong modules weigh more than Shenzhou spacecraft, so this helps to keep the overall launch mass within performance limits.
  9. ^ "CCTV International". Cctv.com. 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2010-12-13. 
  10. ^ Zinger, Kurtis J. (2014). "An Overreaction that Destroyed an Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Satellite Export Controls" (PDF). 
  11. ^ "CZ-2E Space Launch Vehicle". GlobalSecurity.org. 
  12. ^ Huang, Jin (8 March 2016). "Why will Shenzhou-11 carry only two astronauts to space?". People's Daily Online. Retrieved 10 March 2016.