China’s latest carrier rocket, the revolutionary (get it?) Long March-6, lifted off earlier this morning, marking a new phase in the country’s ambitious space program.
China Central Television (CCTV) reports that the carrier rocket lifted off from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in north China’s Shanxi Province at 7 a.m. Beijing time.
The Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, who designed the rocket alongside the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, claim that it is China’s first carrier rocket that uses fuel free of toxicity and pollution due to its liquid oxygen and kerosene propellant.
Long March-6 measures 29.3 meters in length and has a takeoff weight of 103 tons. Upon reaching orbit the rocket successfully deployed 20 satellites which separated 15 minutes after takeoff.
State media were glowing in their praise for the new rocket.
Video: A rocket with 20 satellites? It's China's 1st carrier rocket using fuel free of toxicity & pollution pic.twitter.com/rKhkL9Od07
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) September 20, 2015
The recent launch would seem to indicate that the capabilities of the Chinese space program are developing at a rather rapid pace. Two years ago the China National Space Administrations successfully landed an unmanned rover on the moon, making it part of an exclusive club of three countries to achieve the feat.
Tragically the rover did develop mechanical problems and shut down shortly after.
By Dominic Jackson