Beijing: China will build a new family of rockets, state media said Wednesday, in a move designed to boost the country's capabilities in putting larger satellites and space modules into space.
The new Long March-5 rockets, which will be used to launch communication satellites and space modules, such as lunar probes, will be able to launch heavier payloads than the current version.
According to Chinese space officials, the new rockets also signal China's ambitions to have a greater presence in space over the next three to five decades, as well as a desire to compete in the global commercial satellites launch market, said the China Daily.
"It will also give China the same launch capabilities as developed countries," Wu Yansheng, the president of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, was quoted as saying by the newspaper.
The announcement of the development of a new version of the Long March rocket follows China's successful launch a week ago of its first lunar probe. The Asian space race is warming up with Japan already putting a probe into orbit around the moon a few weeks back and India set to follow with the Chandrayan, its own lunar probe, next year in March-April.
The Long March 5 rockets will be made in the northeastern port city of Tianjin but will be launched from a new centre located in the tropical island province of Hainan.
Because of the massive size of the rockets they will be transported by sea rather than the conventional route overland, the paper said. The new generation of rockets will be brought into operation only around 2013, the China Daily said.