(From Popular Science)
By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer
On August 17th, China successfully test-fired the second stage of the Long March 5 space launch rocket. This was the last of pre- systems integration testing and thus a key
milestone to ensure the LM-5’s timely maiden flight in 2016.
The second stage of the LM-5 is vital for Chinese high orbit satellites and extraterrestial missions, such as lunar exploration. While the basic LM-5 doesn’t have a second stage, the LM-5B will be able to use its second stage to place up to 14 tons into geosynchronous orbit (including military payloads like electronics and intelligence satellites), or to deliver a payload to the moon, like the Chang’e 5 lunar rover. The LM-5’s heavy low orbit and geosynchronous payload will firmly place China among the world’s leading space powers in terms of technology, as well as serving as a stepping stone to even more powerful rockets, like the 130-ton payload Long March 9. Read more