China launches spacecraft via largest carrier rocket

China launches spacecraft via largest carrier rocket

China launches spacecraft via largest carrier rocket

State media portrayed the inaugural launch as a significant advancement of the country's space ambitions.

The Long March 5B carrier rocket takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang, Hainan Province, China, May 5, 2020.

Before the launch, joint drills of the Long March-5B rocket and the prototype core capsule of the space station had been conducted at the Wenchang Space Launch Center.

The successful flight inaugurated the "third step" of China's manned space program, which is to construct a space station, said the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). A test version of a cargo return capsule also successfully separated from the rocket, Xinhua said.

China earlier launched an experimental space station that later crashed back through the atmosphere, and plans to build a larger facility with multiple modules to rival the scale of the International Space Station.

The Long March-5B - with a length of about 53.7 metres and takeoff mass of about 849 tonnes - was also carrying an inflatable cargo return module. It can deliver no less than 22 tons of payload at a time to low-earth orbits (LEO), with its main focus on a 200-to 400-kilometer orbit near the Earth.

As also reported via space, aside from the mission of China to travel to space, another goal of the test launch was to test its other features such as heat shield, parachutes, and its unnamed human capsule.

"The new spaceship will give China an advantage in the area of human spaceflight over Japan and Europe", said Chen Lan, an independent analyst at GoTaikonauts.com, which specialises in China's space programme.

In 1992, China started its manned space program with a three-step strategy.

The program has developed rapidly, especially since its first crewed mission in 2003, and has sought cooperation with space agencies in Europe and elsewhere.

According to space, the Tuesday flight still has no crew inside it since its only a test launch.

However, Beijing has made enormous strides in its attempt to grab up to the United States shuttle program, sending astronauts to space, satellites to orbit along with a rover on the far side of the Moon.

"China has caught up with the U.S. in some space areas like earth observation and navigation", Chen said.

"After the launch of the Long March-5, China will launch a series of 20-tonne rockets, including the Long March-5, 6 and 7", Wang Xiaojun, commander-in-chief of the Long March-7, told the daily.

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