China inaugurates space centre with launch of new carrier rocket

China inaugurated a new space centre on Saturday with the successful launch of a new generation of carrier rocket into space, state news agency Xinhua reported.

The new space center on the Chinese island of Hainan in the South China Sea, is the country's fourth spaceport and is expected to allow China to build larger rockets which can be delivered on ships rather than trains.

Thousands of people gathered in the island's city of Wenchang to watch the launch of the 53.1-meter-long, 597-ton Long March 7 rocket, named after a military maneuver that led to the rise of Chairman Mao Zedung.

The launch is one of many expeditions planned by China's Space Program in the coming years.

China plans to launch two astronauts as well as a laboratory named Tiangong 2 (Heaven's Palace) into space later this year. They are also working to launch the core module of a space station in 2018 with a goal of completing it by 2022.

If the International Space Station, which is currently set to stay in orbit until 2024, is brought back to earth, China would be the only country with a permanent post in outer space.

China also aims to carry out a manned moon landing by 2024 and a probe landing on Mars in 2021.

Last update: Sat, 25/06/2016 - 17:46

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