China's heavy-lift rocket launch boosts space station ambitions


China said Tuesday it successfully launched a new spacecraft at 6pm, in a test of its ambitions to operate a permanent space station and send astronauts to the Moon.

This is a significant mission for China's space program, and an interesting comparison point for the ongoing Commercial Crew missions by NASA, which is approaching a major milestone with the first demonstration launch of SpaceX's Commercial Crew spacecraft with astronauts on board on May 27.

A new large carrier rocket - Long March 5B - is expected to lift off from the Wenchang launch site in the Southern island of Hainan, the China Manned Space Agency said in a statement.

China flies the biggest carrier rocket in space- Is it trying to beat the USA? Eight minutes later, an unmanned prototype spaceship successfully separated and entered its planned orbit.

Earlier in March, China had launched a group of several remote sensing satellites into space from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's southwest Sichuan province which, it had said, will be utilized for electromagnetic environment detection and other technological tests.

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This capsule is said to carry six to seven astronauts at a time and travel to space to fully complete the mission of the government to create a new space station designed for the country.

The test version of a cargo return capsule, which is flexible and inflatable and developed by the Second Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, was also sent into space on Tuesday.

All personnel participating in the mission had overcome tremendous difficulties caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic, and the challenges and pressure brought by the recent failures of the Long March-7A and Long March-3B rockets. It was the third country to put a man in space using its own rocket, following the former Soviet Union and the U.S., and now aims to become a major player in space by 2030.

"After the launch of the Long March-5, China will launch a series of 20-tonne rockets, including the Long March-5, 6 and 7", Wang Xiaojun, commander-in-chief of the Long March-7, told the daily.