China is deploying a newly-built medium-sized rocket to take heavy payloads – of up to 13.5 tonnes – to its space missions especially the space station currently under construction.
It has taken researchers eight years to develop the new-generation Long March-7 rocket, which can carry up to 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit, Li Hong, director of the Carrier Rocket Technology Research Institute with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said.
The rocket departed for its launch base in Hainan today from north China’s port of Tianjin.
“The Long March-7 launch scheduled for late June will be of great significance as it will usher in China’s space lab mission,” state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Yang Baohua, deputy manager of the company as saying.
The space station regarded as a rival to Russian space station Mir being jointly operated with the US is expected to be ready by 2022.
China plans to launch second experimental orbiting space lab, Tiangong-2, this fall and it is scheduled to dock with manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 in the fourth quarter.
Yang said that the Long March-7 carrier is more environmental-friendly than earlier Long March models.
The rocket will become the main carrier for space launches.