As China continues to claim more land for itself in Southeast Asia, its rocket program also continues to progress forward for future missions into space.
The country's first mass-produced rocket, the Long March 5 (LM 5), will officially take off in September this year after completing a final round of tests.
True to its namesake, the LM 5 measures nearly 187 feet tall and is about 16.4 feet in diameter. Currently, it is China's most technologically advanced rocket and it even uses a non-toxic and pollution-free propellant.
Just because it's more environmentally friendly than most rockets, however, doesn't mean it doesn't pack in the power to haul huge payloads into space.
"Boasting a liftoff weight of around 800 metric tons, it will have a maximum payload capacity of 25 metric tons in the low Earth orbit and 14 metric tons in geosynchronous transfer orbit - roughly comparable to those of the United States' Delta IV and Atlas V," describes the China Daily.
The rocket was tested for over 130 days at a new coastal launch facility in Wenchang, China. According to Li Dong, the head of the LM 5 project and senior designer at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, there were over 300 engineers working around the clock to make sure it passed the China National Space Administration's standards.
The results of the said test will be used to further improve the technology in the LM 5, which will be made by the Tianjin Long March Launch Vehicle Manufacturing Company in Northern China. From there, the rocket will get shipped by sea back to Wenchang.
When the LM 5 becomes fully operational, China's launch capabilities would increase by 2.5 times in terms of payload to support its ambitious space missions in the future.
Some of its upcoming space projects where the LM 5 will come in useful include launching multiple modules into space for the future China Space Station. The first major module is expected to launch in 2018 while the rest of the space station will be completed in 2023.