China's Long March 5 rocket reportedly failed shortly after lifting off from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the country's southern Hainan Province. Andrew Jones of gbtimes.com tweets that launch is expected about 11:20 GMT (7:20 am ET). The rocket, carried the Shijian-18 satellite.
Separation of the satellite and the second stage of the Long March 5 was due to take place at T+1714 seconds, almost 30 minutes after launch.
The Long March-5 successfully completed its maiden flight in November 2016 and was slated for a third launch later this year, carrying lunar probe Chang'e-5. An upper stage attached to the satellite was later able to correct the orbit.
It is not yet clear what caused the rocket to fail. At that time, China said it was the most powerful launcher it had yet developed. But with today's failure it seems these dreams of China will have to wait as its dream of developing an advanced space centre will be impacted.
The rocket uses environmentally friendly fuel, including kerosene, liquid hydrogen, and liquid oxygen, rather than highly-toxic propellants.
The Long March 5 is a key part of China's human spaceflight and planetary exploration plans.
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 has scheduled eight launches of the Long March-5 in the coming years for the nation's lunar probe, manned space station and Mars probe missions. The core module of the station will be launched on a Long March 5 in 2018 or 2019.
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