BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:10 P.M.) – On Tuesday, China carried out a successful launch of its largest space missile, the “Changcheng-5B”, with a new-generation vehicle on board.
The Chinese government’s spaceflight program said in a statement that the missile took off at 18:00 local time from Wenchang Space Launch Center on Hainan Island, in southern China.
The statement stressed that this launch was the first mission carried out by that missile, which has a length of about 53.7 meters and a takeoff mass of about 849 tons.
The missile carried a prototype of a manned spacecraft without crew and an inflatable unit for return.
After 8 minutes and 15 seconds passed, the payload was detached from the missile and reached the preset orbit to be recognized as successful.
China announced last March that it was seeking to launch a test spacecraft without a crew as part of a broader spaceflight program to transport astronauts for its future space station and for future manned space exploration.
The launch was scheduled for from early mid-April to late.
China aims to complete a multi-manned space station by 2022, and in 2003 it became the third country to send a man into space aboard a missile of its own making, after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
China has since raced to catch up with Russia and the United States to become a major space power by 2030.