China launches Long March rocket as space race heats up

Orlando Sentinel - - NATION & WORLD -

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.

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