China conducted the maiden launch of its Long March-8 rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China's Hainan Province on Tuesday.
The new medium-lift rocket blasted off at 12:37 p.m. Beijing Time sending five test satellites into a preset orbit.
The successful launch has wrapped up the last year for China's new-generation rocket launch missions of its 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016- 2020).
The Long March-8 rocket is designed for the international commercial space launch market and is expected to fill a gap in launch capabilities for low- and medium-orbit satellites to Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) and geosynchronous transfer orbits.
With an overall length of about 50.3 meters, the rocket has a takeoff mass of about 356 tons, and a takeoff thrust of about 480 tons. It can lift a maximum payload of more than 4.5 tons to 700 km SSO.
A 'green' rocket
The launcher was developed using China's new-generation cryogenic rocket engine filled with green liquid propellant and is of modular design.
It adopts no-toxic propellants of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, which generates water after combustion, ensuring the launch process is environmentally friendly and efficient.
The two-stage rocket's first stage is based on that of the Long March-7 rocket, and the second stage on the third stage of the Long March-3 rocket.
With a recyclable design, a future variant of Long March-8 can be reusable and thereby significantly reduce costs and shorten the launch cycle.
"The launch cycle of the future Long March-8 rocket will be reduced to 10 days," said Duan Baocheng, deputy commander of Long March-8 rocket.