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Asia Minute: China’s Big Week in Aviation

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From the Chicago Cubs to the presidential election, it’s been an eventful week for domestic news. There’s been much less publicity about a pair of dramatic developments in China when it comes to aviation. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

China launched the most powerful rocket it’s ever sent into space on Thursday night local time.  It’s called the Long March CZ-5…and analysts say it’s roughly equivalent to the Delta Four Heavy model of the United States.

In case you’re not a rocket scientist, one point of comparison is how much cargo the vehicle can carry into a low earth orbit.  For both of these rockets, the answer is about 25 tons.  The Communist Party “People’s Daily” says the CZ-5 will launch exploration programs to the moon….and in four years or so, to Mars.  It will also boost portions of China’s planned space station into orbit.  This mission carried an experimental satellite.

China also unveiled a different kind of aeronautical progress this week….a pair of stealth fighter jets.  Two Chengdu J-20 planes roared across the sky in a very brief and unannounced appearance at a public airshow in the southern city of Zhuhai.  The jets set off car alarms in the parking lot, but the display apparently did not shed much light on the plane’s capability---including the extent of its radar evasion systems.  There may be further developments—the Chinese air show continues through this weekend.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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