Earlier today the Chinese conducted the maiden launch of the Long March-7 rocket which took off from a new space launch center in Hainan province.
According to Xinhua, the launch took place at 8 p.m. this evening from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center.
More than 1,000 cubic meters of liquid oxygen and 600 cubic meters of kerosene were required to lift the 53-meter-tall, 597 tonne rocket into space.
Prior to the launch, engineers on the ground were already confident of a successful launch. “Various preparations have gone according to plan,” said Wang Guangyi, a commander for the launch mission, “I am fully confident in its maiden-flight mission.”
The primary payload on board the inaugural launch of the Long March-7 is a prototype capsule for the future next generation crew vehicle. Based on the veteran Soyuz Russian design, the Shenzhou manned space capsules will serve the next generation of Chinese space stations.
The Tiangong-2 space station will replace the Tiangong-1 which is currently sitting in orbit. Chinese engineers then hope to follow up with the Tiangong-3, which will be a modular space station similar in scale to the current International Space Station.
China has ambitious plans for its space program, with plans to follow up its first lunar rover Yutu with a manned moon landing by 2025.
[Image via Xinhua]