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China launches its new mainstay rocket

The nation successfully launches the Long March 7, the workhorse rocket that'll form the backbone of its space program.
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VCG via Getty

China is celebrating the successful launch of its Long March 7 rocket, a key component and backbone of its future space program. As Xinhua News explains, the craft is designed as the "main carrier" for the Chinese space program, capable of pushing 13.5 tons of gear towards the heavens. SpaceFlightNow reports that the rocket carried a miniature version of China's forthcoming crew capsule, which is currently being tested. Other craft on the launch included an experimental satellite tasked with cleaning up space junk and a device to measure the Earth's gravitational field.

As impressive as 13.5 tons may sound to us, China's already looking to dwarf that record with its next rocket, the Long March 5. While Long March 7 will be used for regular trips beyond the sky, March 5 will be able to carry 25 tons of hardware. That'll come in useful over the next few years, when the nation begins working on the 60-ton Tiangong-3 space station. Before that, Tiangong-2 will launch towards the end of this year, although that'll be carried on the back of the older, less exciting Long March 2F. As for Tiangong-1, the station seems to have malfunctioned towards the end of March and has now, reportedly, "gone rogue."

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