China’s Long March Rocket Test Launch Lays the Basis for Moon, Mars, and Space Station Missions
May 6, 2020 (EIRNS)—China’s heavy-lift Long March-5B rocket launched successfully into low Earth orbit yesterday, laying the basis for China’s upcoming most ambitious missions—to Mars, for lunar sample return, and to build the space station. The “B” version of the 5 series of Long March rockets can carry the heaviest payload. A Long March rocket suffered a serious failure a few years ago, which required significant redesign. Yesterday’s test launch was, therefore, critically important.
Taking advantage of every opportunity to push forward toward the next mission, the payload carried to orbit by yesterday’s launch included a prototype of a next-generation manned space ship, and a test version of a cargo-return capsule. Although both craft separated from the rocket according to plan, Xinhua reported today that the inflatable return-cargo capsule, “operated abnormally” during its return back through the atmosphere from orbit.
Yang Qing from the China Academy of Space Technology told Xinhua in March that this mission would test “key technologies,” including the control of re-entry into the atmosphere from orbit. This will clearly continue to be an area of ongoing research and testing.