Giant new rocket roars into space
The first Long March 5, a titanic heavy-lift carrier with a weight of 870 metric tons, pierced the heavens Thursday night
China launched its first heavylift Long March 5 carrier rocket late Thursday, marking a new milestone in the country’s space industry.
As China’s first-generation heavy-lift rocket, the Long March 5 has a liftoff weight of 870 metric tons, and a maximum payload capacity of 25 tons to low Earth orbit and 14 tons to geosynchronous transfer orbit.
The 57-meter-tall rocket, the tallest in China’s carrier rocket family, thundered away with a blinding white flash from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the island province of Hainan at 8:43 pm. It ferried the Shijian 17 scientific experiment satellite and a Yuanzheng 2 upper stage, which is capable of putting multiple payloads into different orbits during a single mission.
As the nation’s strongest and most technologically advanced launch vehicle, Long March 5 will enable China to put its future manned station into space and send unmanned probes to Mars, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, which oversees the rocket’s development.