China has successfully launched its largest and most powerful rocket, the Long March-5 Yaosan, carrying the experimental Shijian 20 communications satellite, on December 27. This mission will pave the way for highly sensitive missions in space.
About 2,220 seconds after take-off, from the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan, the Shijian-20 successfully entered its orbit, and the launch mission was declared a success. The successful launch is a major step towards China’s future goals for space exploration.
The satellite, which weighs a reported eight metric tons, is China’s heaviest and most advanced satellite to date, according to the Chinese media reports.
The Long March 5 delivered a single test satellite into orbit, but the rocket is capable of lugging 25 tonnes of cargo into low Earth orbit. The rocket measures 57 meters (184 feet) high and weighs nearly 2 million lbs. (867,000 kg) when taking off.
Earlier its launch in July 2017 had failed midway. At that time, the Shijian 18 experimental communication satellite was to be placed in orbit on Long March 5 Y2, but it was not successful. China first launched Long March 5 in November 2016.
In recent years, China has made the space programs a top priority in the race to catch up with the United States and become a space power by 2030. Beijing also plans to start building a space station, particularly in 2020.