China's state-run Xinhua news service announced about 45 minutes after liftoff that the launch had failed.
The rocket was carrying a communication satellite, but launches of Long March-5 have been scheduled in preparation for China's lunar probe, manned space station and Mars probe missions, Xinhua said. China had planned to use this rocket for its lunar mission to collect samples from the lunar surface. An upper stage attached to the satellite was later able to correct the orbit. The rocket has reportedly deviated from its flight path according to live tracking data displayed.
Something happened after separation of the four boosters, as the live launch coverage was abruptly stopped by Chinese media. A Long March 3B rocket launched the Chinasat-9A satellite into geostationary transfer orbit June 19.
"The failure points out that rocket science isn't easy - if it were there would be a lot more countries with the capabilities so far reserved to the US, Russia and a handful of others within varying degrees", says Joan Johnson-Freese, Professor of National Security Affairs at the US Naval War College, expressing her personal views. The rocket is quite advanced since it utilizes environmentally friendly fuels such as kerosene, liquid hydrogen, and liquid oxygen.
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The launch window opens on November 29, but the issues causing today's failure will need to be identified and resolved.
Above: The Chang'e-5 return capsule (right) and lander and ascent vehicles (left, background) (Framegrab/CCTV).
It also said propellant for the rocket, which will send the Shijian-18 communication satellite into orbit, began to be pumped in on this afternoon.
According to a launching site official, specialists are now carrying out the last testing and fuel the rocket, while the weather conditions are expected to be fine for the launch.