China launches Long March rocket as space race heats up
China on Friday launched a Long March 5 rocket from the island province of Hainan, a key step in its ambitions to reach Mars and cement its place as a major power in space exploration.
The country’s largest carrier rocket, with a diameter of 16 feet, blasted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center, according to a live broadcast from CCTV. The unmanned rocket was carrying a communications satellite named Shijian 20 that is expected to be deployed into orbit.
China’s President Xi Jinping has ambitious plans for space exploration, and the country has outdone both the U.S. and Russia in terms of its number of orbital launches. There were two failures this year. In January, China became the first country to land a probe on the far side of the moon.