China's Long March 5 fails shortly after launch, threatening space ambitions

Long March 5 rocket launch fails – Chinese state media (VIDEO)

The launch of the Long March-5 Y2, carrying the super-heavy experimental communications satellite Shijian-18, was attempted from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre's in Hainan on Sunday at about 5 pm India time.

"Further investigation will be carried out", the report added, without elaborating.

The Long March-5 made its first flight in November 2016, sending its payload into preset orbit.

The Long March 5 is the heaviest of the three new generation rockets being developed by China using the core stage and different combinations of strap-on boosters and an third upper stage.

The same rocket type had been expected to take China's latest lunar probe to the moon this year and return with samples. The rocket, carried the Shijian-18 satellite.

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However, 40 minutes after the launch, the Xinhua News Agency said the operation was "unsuccessful" and "abnormity was detected during the flight". Details of the failure were not immediately available. As per an official media statement, the launch failed as certain anomaly was detected.

Xinhua reported last week the Long March-5 Y2 would be fuelled by liquid hydrogen, kerosene and liquid oxygen.

Beijing sees its multi-billion-dollar space programme as a symbol of its rise and of the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation. This was a significant improvement over the earlier models of Long March series.

And in April, the country's first cargo spacecraft completed its docking with an orbiting space lab - a key development toward China's goal of having its own crewed space station by 2022.

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