In what may be a big blow to China’s space ambition, the second launch of its new-generation Long March-5 carrier rocket failed Sunday.
Carrying an experimental communication satellite, China’s largest rocket lifted off at 7:23 p.m. local time (7:23 a.m. ET) toward clear skies from the seaside Wenchang space launch centre on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
But 40 minutes later, the state-run Xinhua news agency flashed a headline declaring the launch a failure — without providing any details.
Dubbed “Chubby 5” for its huge size — 5 meters in diameter and 57 meters tall — the LM-5 rocket is designed to carry up to 25 tons of payload into low orbit, more than doubling the country’s previous lift capability.
Xinhua initially tweeted: “#BREAKING: China’s launch of Long March-5 Y2 carrier rocket fails.”
It then tweeted: “Anomaly was detected during its flight and further investigation will be carried out.”