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CHINA LAUNCHES NEW ROCKET AND PROTOTYPE SPACECRAFT

Why in news?

China on 5th May 2020 successfully launched a new rocket and prototype spacecraft, in a major test of the country’s ambitions to operate a permanent space station and send astronauts to the Moon.

Details

  • ‘The Long March 5B’ rocket took off from the Wenchang launch site in the southern island of Hainan and eight minutes later an unmanned prototype spaceship successfully separated and entered its planned orbit.
  • The spaceship will one day transport astronauts to a space station that China plans to complete by 2022 — and eventually to the Moon.
  • It will have capacity for a crew of six.

Significance

  • The United States is so far the only country to have successfully sent humans to the Moon. But Beijing has made huge strides in its effort to catch up, sending astronauts into space, satellites into orbit and a rover to the far side of the Moon.
  • The successful maiden flight of the 54-metre Long March 5B — which has a take-off mass of about 849 tonnes — should reassure China, following failures of the 7A model in March and 3B model in April.
  • The new spaceship will give China an advantage in the area of human spaceflight over Japan and Europe.
  • China plans to send an astronaut to the Moon in about a decade and then build a base there.
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