A Long March-8 rocket, the latest China's Long March launch vehicle fleet, lifts off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern China's Hainan province Photograph:( AFP )
The Long March-8 series is part of China's endeavours to develop reusable rockets, potentially lowering mission costs and paving the way towards commercial launch services
China's new medium-lift carrier rocket Long March-8 made its maiden flight on Tuesday, sending five satellites into planned orbit, according to state media.
The Long March-8 series is part of China's endeavours to develop reusable rockets, potentially lowering mission costs and paving the way towards commercial launch services.
China plans to develop reusable rockets under the Long March 8 series in the coming years, similar to the Falcon range already produced by US private aerospace firm SpaceX.
The new medium-lift carrier rocket sent five satellites into planned orbit, blasting off from the Wenchang launch site on the southern Hainan island at 12:37 pm Beijing time (0437 GMT) on Tuesday.
It measures 50.3 metres and has a take-off mass of 356 tonnes, and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said it is of "great significance for accelerating the upgrading of launch vehicles".
The rocket's design was based on technologies developed for previous Long March editions, Xinhua reported Tuesday.
It is also expected to lay the foundation for the development of large and heavy rockets, shortening development periods and reducing costs, said Song Zhengyu, the chief designer of the Long March-8.
The five experimental satellites launched by the new rocket will conduct experiments in space science, remote sensing and communication technologies, said Xinhua.
Beijing has invested heavily in its space programme as a sign of its technological prowess and scientific endeavour.
An unmanned Chinese spacecraft returned to earth last week with rocks and soil from the moon -- the first lunar samples collected in four decades.
China will develop its first VTVL vehicle around 2025, an official at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country’s main space contractor, told a local conference in November.