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Launch fails for China's Long March-5 Y2 carrier rocket

03 July 2017

China's ambitious space programme appeared to suffer a setback on Sunday when a Long March-5 rocket with a communications satellite on board failed to successfully launch.

Johnson-Freese points notes that the Long March 5 is essential for the future Chinese Space Station and both robotic and human lunar programmes.

Something happened after separation of the four boosters, as the live launch coverage was abruptly stopped by Chinese media. An upper stage attached to the satellite was later able to correct the orbit.

It was not clear whether the rocket had entered orbit before the failure occurred.

The rocket's first launch, in November 2016, was declared a success although issues with the rocket placed the payload, the Shijian-17 satellite, into not quite the planned orbit.

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The Long March 5's maiden test flight a year ago had launched Shijian 17.

Dubbed "Chubby 5" for its huge size - five metres in diameter and 57 metres tall - the LM-5 rocket is created to carry up to 25 tonnes of payload into low orbit, more than doubling the country's previous lift capability.

As well as Chang'e-5, the Long March 5 will launch the country's first independent interplanetary mission, to Mars, in 2020.

The Long March 5B, if the schedule holds, could to see one or two test launches in 2018, possibly carrying a test capsule for a 20 metric tonne, next-generation spacecraft for human missions.

China's attempt to launch the "Long March-5 Y2" carrier rocket today failed after an anomaly was detected during its flight. The core module of the station will be launched on a Long March 5 in 2018 or 2019.

Launch fails for China's Long March-5 Y2 carrier rocket