China builds bigger rockets for heavier satellites

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BEIJING, Oct 31 (Reuters) China is building a new range of rockets designed to triple the payload capacity needed to lift larger satellites into geosynchronous orbit, Xinhua said today.

''The carrying capacity can reach 14 tons from the current2.6 to 5.4 tons while sending satellites into geosynchronousorbit, like Chang'e-1,'' the news agency quoted Wu Yansheng, president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, as saying.

The Long March 5 rockets will be able to carry payloads ofup to 25 tons for low earth orbit satellites, up from the current limit of 9.2 tons, said Wu.

China's first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, named after a legendary Chinese goddess, blasted off on a Long March 3A carrier rocket on October 24 from a launch centre in southwestern China.

In addition to their bigger capacity, Long March 5 rocketswill be designed using pollution-free technologies, Wu said.

''The new generation of carrier rockets are expected to blast off within six to seven years,'' said Ma Xingrui, general manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

The Long March 5 rockets will lift off from a new space launch centre in the southern island province of Hainan. Thenew centre, the fourth in China, is expected to be completed in2012, Xinhua said.

REUTERS ARBND2036

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