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China's new carrier rocket Long March-8 makes maiden flight
SOURCE: CASC     UPDATED: 2020-12-24

China's new medium-lift carrier rocket Long March-8 made its maiden flight on Tuesday, sending five satellites into planned orbit.

The rocket blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of southern China's island province of Hainan at 12:37 p.m. (Beijing Time).

The Long March-8 rocket has a total length of 50.3 meters, with a takeoff mass of 356 tonnes. It can carry a payload of at least 4.5 tonnes to a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 700 km.

The rocket was developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

It has a 3.35-meter-diameter first stage, a 3-meter-diameter second stage, a 4.2-meter-diameter fairing, and two 2.25-meter-diameter strap-on boosters.

It adopts technologies used in the Long March-5 and Long March-7 rockets, and uses non-toxic and non-polluting propellants.

The rocket will enrich China's launch vehicle variety and help expand the country's aerospace activities, according to the CALT.

It will promote the upgrading of China's medium-sized launch vehicles and satisfy the needs of high-density launch missions for medium and low-orbit satellites.

Long March-8 is the first among China's carrier rockets to adopt thrust control technology, which will enhance its adaptability to different missions and help test related technologies for rocket reuse.

Tuesday's launch was the 356th mission of the Long March rocket series.