New Delhi, Mar 3: China has announced that its new generation of carrier rocket - the Long March 5, which has a maximum payload capacity of 25 tons, would start operations in 2014.
"The rockets will be made in Tianjin and launched in Hainan," said Liang Xiaohong, vice president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. "The 25-ton payload capacity, more than double the current limit of 9.2 tons, will greatly improve the country's capability in space exploration," he added. In addition to bigger capacity, the Long March 5 rockets will be designed using pollution-free technologies.
The new series of rockets will lift off from a new space launch center in Wenchang, in the southern island province of Hainan. The new center, the fourth in China, is expected to be completed in 2012 and formally put into use in 2013.
The rockets will be made in a new base located at the Binhai New Area in the northern port city of Tianjin, and construction on the base was started last October.
The first phase of the 200-hectare base will be completed at the end of 2009. A total of 4.5 billion yuan (630 million dollars) will be invested in the project.
"The base will meet the demands of China's space technology development and peaceful use of space for 30 to 50 years," according to Yu Liegui, deputy head of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense.
"Meanwhile, the Long March 3C carrier rocket will come out of production later this month and is scheduled to be launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in the southwestern province of Sichuan next month," said Liang.