Beijing: Ascending towards its ambitious space program, China has blasted off its ‘Long March-7’ new generation carrier rocket on a successful inaugural voyage from a new launch centre in Wenchang, a city in the southern province of Hainan.
The two-stage, medium-sized rocket is expected to become the main carrier for China’s future space missions. It can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low-Earth orbit – a payload one and reportedly half times greater than China’s existing rockets. “The more our rockets can lift, the farther we can venture into space,” the Guardian quoted Ma Zhonghui, the rocket’s chief designer, as saying.
He added, “Long March-7’s successful maiden flight will greatly lift up China’s comprehensive space capacity, and give the country a hefty boost in building itself into a space power.”
Long March-7’s re-entry module is scheduled to return to Earth at a desert in Inner Mongolia on today after orbiting the planet 13 times. Reports suggest that Beijing plans to launch its largest carrier rocket, the Long March-5, from the same site later this year. China launched its first manned spaceflight in 2003, and reports suggest that it hopes to operate its own space station by around 2022.