China has successfully test-fired its first four-stage solid-fuel launch vehicle capable of putting small satellites into space, a spokesperson for the developer said on Wednesday.
The spokesperson for China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp (CASIC) said that the successful test on Sept. 16 at north China's Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center makes China the third country in the world capable of developing such rockets after the United States and Russia.
The newly-developed rocket is capable of putting up to 100-kg satellites into orbit around the earth for resources exploration, environmental monitoring and survey, scientific experiments and other purposes, said the spokesperson.
"Compared with powerful launch vehicles that use liquid fuel, the solid-fuel launch vehicle, popularly known as Pioneer I, requires much less preparation time to launch, and is much easier to operate."
It takes only 12 hours or even less to get ready to launch a satellite using the Pioneer I rocket, while about three months' time is required for a liquid-fuel launch vehicle, including shipping the vehicle, installation and testing, and filling it with liquid fuel, said the spokesperson.
The Pioneer I rocket can be launched from a mobile pad, and it is easier to make its traveling speed much faster, he added.
Xia Guohong, general manager of CASIC, said that Chinese rocket experts at the company will conscientiously sum up the useful experience gained from the experiment, and strive to put a small satellite into space at an early date using the rocket.
(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2003)