China plans to launch its first solid fuel rocket by 2016, marking a strategic shift from liquid fuel rockets, which so far has been used in over 170 successful launches in the last two decades.

China’s first solid-fuel rocket Long March-11 is expected to make its first launch before 2016, said Liang Xiaohong, deputy head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.

The rocket will be easy to operate and cost-efficient to launch. It can remain in storage for long periods and reliably launched at a short notice, Liang said.

China has launched more than 170 liquid-fuel rockets successfully, but is yet to make breakthrough in developing solid-fuel rockets, which analysts say can be applied in missiles as well.

“The development of Long March-11 will greatly improve China’s capabilities to rapidly reach space and meet any emergency launching demand in case of disasters and emergencies,” Liang told state-run Xinhua news agency.

The Long March-11 rocket will use China’s largest solid-fuel rocket engine and a brand new launching support system, Liang added.