By Emilia Jiang

China's-long-march-8-rocket makes-maiden flight-1
  • The Long March 8 Y-1 blasted off from southern China’s Hainan this morning 
  • The rocket is part of Beijing’s long-term plan to develop reusable launch vehicles
  • Once built, reusable rockets could operate commercial space flights regularly
  • Beijing hopes to establish a programme sending travellers into space by 2045

A new Chinese carrier rocket has made its first flight today, paving the way towards China‘s ambitious mission of sending travellers into space by 2045.

The medium-lift Long March 8 Y-1 blasted off at 12.37 pm (04.37am GMT) from the southern Chinese island of Hainan carrying five satellites, state media reported. 

The newly launched rocket is part of China’s long-term plan to develop reusable launch vehicles that could operate thousands of commercial space flights a year, carrying passengers and cargo.China’s new Long

China's-long-march-8-rocket makes-maiden flight-2
People use smartphones and cameras to record the launch of carrier rocket Long March-8 which makes its maiden flight from the Wenchang Space Launch Center on December 22 

It comes just under a week after China brought back rocks and soil from the Moon in the first lunar sample retrieval since 1976 during its Chang’e-5 mission.

A number of countries and companies around the world are rushing to develop their reusable rockets, which could drastically reduce the costs of launch, in turn making commercial space travel more economical and accessible.

Amongst them, US aerospace manufacturers SpaceX and Blue Origin are the frontrunners in the race, with a legion of private companies following suit.

China plans to develop reusable rockets under the Long March 8 series in the coming years in order to reduce mission costs and speed up launch schedules for commercial clients.