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The competition heats up: With the expected first launch of China’s new Long March 6 rocket today, this report nicely outlines the status of the country’s rocket program.
Like Russia’s Angara and SpaceX’s Falcon, the new generation of Long March rockets are modular and use the same rocket engine. This has reduced cost and allows for faster assembly. The launch today is the maiden flight of the smaller member of this family. The key launch will be that of the larger Long March 5, scheduled for next year. Capable of putting 25 tons in orbit (five more than Proton), this is the rocket they plan to use to launch the modules for their full-sized space station.