The new Long March 5 rocket launched successfully from the Wenchang Space Launch Center. The rocket measures 187 feet, making it the largest produced by China. It can carry 25 tons of payload into low-Earth orbit. The rocket carried a satellite that will be used to test a variety of technologies, from observing space debris to electric propulsion.
The rocket is an integral part of the growing Chinese space program. It lays the groundwork for future missions, such as China’s plan to have a fully-crewed space station by 2022 and send an uncrewed mission to Mars some time between 2024 and the end of the decade.
China is working on a new rocket that could carry up to 100 tons, Tian Yulong, the program’s chief engineer, reportedly said at a news conference.
China’s rocket is competitive with the United Launch Atlas and European launch medium lift rockets.