China plans to develop a new generation of carrier rockets with a payload
capacity large enough to launch a space station, state media reported Monday.
China attaches great prestige to its space program, seeing it as a way to
validate its claims to being one of the world's leading scientific nations.
China launched its first manned space mission in 2003, making it the third
country to send a human into orbit on its own after Russia and the United
The country put two astronauts into orbit for a week in 2005 and officials
have said they want to put a man on the moon and build a space station in the
next 10 or 15 years.
The payload capacity of China's Long March series of carrier rockets will be
more than doubled from 9.5 tons to 25 tons in order to advance the country's
lunar exploration program, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing an
official with the state-run China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.
The official did not say when the rockets would be ready for launch.
The new generation of carrier rockets would have a large enough payload from
which to launch a space station, Xinhua said, citing Huang Chunping, a Chinese
On June 1, China launched a new communications satellite into orbit to
provide broader radio and television signal coverage across the country.
The long-scheduled launch followed the failed deployment in October of
another communications satellite whose solar panels and communications antennae
did not operate properly.