Second Launch of China’s Long March 5 Fails

Second Launch of China’s Long March 5 Fails

The second launch of China’s Long March 5 rocket (Y2) failed today.  A short statement by China’s Xinhua news agency said only that an abnormality was detected and an investigation is underway.

The Long March 5 launch took place from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island at 7:23 pm local time (7:23 am Eastern Daylight Time), just after sunset.  The launch was televised live and appeared to go well initially (at 53:55 on the video).

The Long March 5 rocket was intended to place the Shijian-18 (SJ-18) experimental communications satellite into geostationary orbit.  China also characterized it as a final test of the new rocket before November’s scheduled launch of the Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission.  A postponement of that launch would not be surprising considering today’s failure.

Xinhua’s statement said the launch was “unsuccessful. Abnormity [sic] was detected during the flight of the rocket … Further investigation will be carried out.”

The first launch of Long March 5 took place on November 3, 2016 and successfully placed the SJ-17 experimental communications satellite into geostationary orbit.

Successful launch of the first Long March 5 on November 3, 2016.  Photo credit: China Xinhua News (@XHNews)

China has big plans for Long March 5, including launches of robotic spacecraft to the Moon and Mars and a modular space station in low Earth orbit.

Stay tuned for updates as more information becomes available.


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