China’s second attempt at launching its Long March-5 carrier rocket failed Sunday.
The state-run Xinhua news agency announced the launch failure 40 minutes after its blast off from Wenchang space launch center on the southern island province of Hainan.
The news agency tweeted that an “anomaly was detected during its flight and further investigation will be carried out.”
The Long March-5 was carrying a super-heavy experimental communications satellite. “However, this satellite is now likely to be heading to a watery grave,” NASA reported on Sunday.
It’s a blow for China’s ambitious space program, and an inhibiting factor in their quest to excel their spacefaring capabilities. China is hoping to land a robotic probe on the dark side of the moon later this year — a Long March-5 rocket is intended to carry it — and their goal is to reach Mars by 2020.
The Long March-5 is China’s homegrown heavy-lift rocket, made to stand on par with American and European rockets like the Delta IV Heavy, and the Ariane 5. It’s engineered to carry up to 25 tons of cargo into low orbit or 14 tons to geosynchronous orbit.
The Long March-5 did achieve a successful debut launch in November of last year; at the time it carried a test satellite into low-Earth orbit.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk offered his condolences to China upon hearing of their rocket troubles Sunday.
Video footage of the launch seems fairly normal, but what went wrong occurred when the rocket was already in flight and there was no footage of any incident available at this time of writing. We’ll have to wait on China’s investigation to find out what exactly happened.
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