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China initiates first phase of reusable rockets’ plan

The Long March-8, China’s new carrier rocket, made its first flight on Tuesday, the country’s space agency said, the first phase of a strategy to deploy launch vehicles can be reused.

The Long March-8 series is part of China’s endeavors to develop reusable rockets, potentially lowering mission costs and paving the way towards commercial launch services.

The program has drawn parallels to private US rocket firm SpaceX’s Falcon range. The new medium-lift carrier rocket sent five satellites into planned orbit, blasting off from the Wenchang launch site on the southern Hainan island at 12:37 pm Beijing time on Tuesday.

It measures 50.3 m and has a take-off mass of 356 tonnes, and the China National Space Administration (CNSA) said it is of “great significance for accelerating the upgrading of launch vehicles”.

Song Zhengyu, the chief designer of the Long March-8 said it is also expected to lay the foundation for the development of large and heavy rockets, shortening development periods, and reducing costs.

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