China Long March 5 Rocket
China has successfully launched Long March-5 Y3 Yaosan, one of the world’s most powerful rockets, in a major bid for its planned mission to Mars in 2020. This heavy lift rocket carried a Shijian 20 test satellite payload as it blasted off from the Wenchang launch site on the southern island of Hainan at 8:45pm (12:45pm GMT or 6:15pm IST). Read more for a video and additional information.

The successful launch is a major component of China’s plans for a mission to the Red Planet next year and the next step would be to eventually have a manned space station by 2022. The Long March 5 is capable of transporting up to 25 tons and is comparable in capacity to the US-made Delta IV Heavy and Russia’s Proton-M rockets.

The rocket is vital to China’s future space missions. It will be tasked with launching China’s first Mars probe and sending the Chang’ e-5 lunar probe to the moon to bring lunar samples back to Earth. In addition, a modified version of the rocket, Long March-5B, will be used to construct China’s space station,” said international television network CGTV.