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Saturday, January 16, 2016, 14:43

China to debut new carrier rockets

By Xinhua

China to debut new carrier rockets
A Chinese Long March-3B carrier rocket blasts off with Bolivia's first telecommunications satellite on Dec 21, 2013 from the Xichang satellite launch center in China's southwestern Sichuan province. (CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO)

BEIJING - China will send two new models of carrier rocket in the Long March series on their maiden space trips in 2016, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASC) said on Saturday.

The country's strongest carrier rocket, Long March-5 has a payload capacity of 25 tons to low Earth orbit, or 14 tons to geostationary transfer orbit. It is scheduled to carry the Chang'e-5 lunar probe around 2017 to finish the last chapter in China's three-step (orbiting, landing and return) moon exploration program.

According to a CASC statement, which did not specify either of the rockets' missions this year, Long March-5 is currently being tested at a launch site in south China's Hainan province.

A medium-sized rocket using liquid propellants, Long March-7 will carry up to 13.5 tons to low Earth orbit or 5.5 tons to sun-synchronous orbit at a height of 700 km. It will carry cargo craft for the planned space station.

"The two carrier rockets' maiden flights will significantly boost our country's ability to enter space and help realize leapfrog development in our space transportation system," said the CASC.

Both rockets were developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology under the CASC.

According to the statement, the academy will be responsible for the launch of 15 space missions this year, covering manned space projects, China's satellite navigation system and satellites for civilian and commercial uses.

Meanwhile, a Chinese communications satellite was launched for Belarus on Saturday morning, marking the first Chinese satellite made for a European country.

The BELINTERSAT-1, the first communications satellite to be operated by Belarus, will contribute to improving radio, television and telecommunications, as well as Internet service, in the Eastern European nation and its neighboring regions, said China Great Wall Industry Corp, major contractor of the project.

The satellite was lifted atop a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. It was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology based on the DFH-4 satellite platform. Carrying 38 transponders, the satellite has a designed life span of 15 years, according to the company.

(Zhao Lei contributed to this report)

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