China’s heavy lift Long March-5B carrier rocket, which is capable of carrying a payload of 25,000 kg in low earth orbit, will be launched into space in 2019, a top space official has said. The carrier rocket will undergo testing this month in preparation for the first launch mission, and it will help carry the core module and experimental modules to China’s space station, said an spokesperson of the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) said. China initiated the manned space programme in 1992. Designed as the country’s strongest carrier rocket, the Long March-5 has a payload capacity of 25 tonnes to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), or 14 tonnes to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). China will select the third batch of astronauts in the first half of this year for its manned space exploration plan.
The new astronauts will include not only pilots, but also maintenance engineers, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported today. More manned and cargo spacecraft have been scheduled for development.
The spokesperson also said that the CMSEO would cooperate with the United Nations for Outer Space Affairs to offer opportunities on the application of the Chinese space station, with the European Space Agency on module development and with other countries on the lunar probe.