HAINAN ISLAND, China, June 26 (UPI) — China successfully launched the next generation Long March-7 rocket Saturday which also included the inauguration of the Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island.
The main payload for the maiden launch includes a next generation crew vehicle that is expected to make a a short orbital flight before being recovered in Mongolia NASAspaceflight.com reported.
The rocket launched at 12 p.m.
The Chinese began developing the Chang Zheng-7 in May 2010. It is China’s new-generation medium-lift orbital launch vehicle. The rocket was developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
The main purpose for this launch was to deploy the prototype shuttle in to space, CNN reported. The Chinese sent several small satellites along with it.
As China’s first digitally designed rocket, manufactured with 3-D technology, Long March-7 stands 174 feet tall and can carry as much as 13.5 tons of payload in to low Earth orbit. It is expected to become the primary carrier for future Chinese space launches.
Powered by kerosene and oxygen, the rocket’s designers said it is “more environmentally friendly” because it produces less pollution than previous models.
The new Wenchang launch center has more versatility than the other three existing launch sites and allows for launch vehicles to gain from the Earth’s rotational speed because it is closer to the Equator, which reduces the amount of propellants needed for satellites to maneuver.
Launch vehicles also can fly from the launch site in a southeast direction in to the South Pacific Ocean, which allows them to avoid dropping rocket debris in to populated areas.