WASHINGTON:Chinalaunched a large missile on Monday that reached 6,200 miles above the earth, its highest suborbital launch since 1976, according to aUSscientist atHarvardUniversity.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at theHarvard-SmithsonianCenterfor Astrophysics, said the rocket was launched from theXichangSatelliteLaunchCenterin westernChina, andChinasaid the rocket carried a science payload which studied the earth's magnetosphere. He said the rocket could possibly be used in the future to carry an anti-satellite payload on a similar trajectory, but there was no evidence to indicate the launch was intended to test such a capability.  TheUSremains concerned aboutChina's development of anti-satellite capabilities after it shot a missile at one of its own defunct satellites in orbit in 2007.

Monday's rocket launch was similar to launches using the Blue Scout Junior rocket that were conducted by the US Air Force in the 1960s for research on the Earth's magnetosphere, McDowell said in an emailed response to questions.

The launch came less than a week afterUSDeputy Defence Secretary Ashton Carter unveiled what he called a "long overdue" effort to safeguard US national security satellites and develop ways to counter the space capabilities of potential adversaries.

The Pentagon also released an 83-page report on Chinese military developments that highlighted China's increasing space capabilities and said Beijing was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.

A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on the Chinese rocket launch.