07/03/2017, 09.22
CHINA
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Hainan, failed launch of Long March 5-Y2 rocket

Abrupt halt to the Chinese Space Program. The launch was the final scheduled test for the Long March-5 series. Anomaly 40 minutes after takeoff. Onboard the heaviest satellite that China has ever launched into space. In coming years, eight Long March-5 launches planned for the lunar probe, space stations and missions on Mars.

Hainan (AsiaNews) - The launch of the Long March 5-Y2 rocket for heavy loads, with a communications satellite onboard, has failed according to Chinese state media.

The engine, carrying the Shijian-18, took off at 7.23 yesterday from the Wenchang Space Launch Center, in the southern province of Hainan. However, 40 minutes after the launch, Xinhua said the operation was "unsuccessful" and that "an anomaly was detected during the flight".

The agency announced that "experts will be mobilized to investigate and analyze the reasons for the failure" without providing further details.

The launch was the final scheduled test for the Long March-5 series, before sending the Chang'e-5 lunar probe into space within the second half of the year. The probe will collect some samples before returning to Earth.

With a weight of 7.5 tons, the Shijian-18 is the heaviest satellite that China has ever launched into space. The Long March 5-Y2 is the nation's second heaviest rocket, capable of placing 25 tons in orbit and 14 tons in geostationary orbit, more than double the capacity of the earlier Long March models.

China's ambitious space program seems to have come to a standstill. Beijing sees its multi-billionaire space program as a symbol of China's rise and the success of the Communist Party in transforming a once-poor nation.

Last month, Beijing launched successfully the Long March-4B, its first space X-ray telescope to study black holes, pulsar and gamma ray bursts. In April, the country's first spacecraft successfully completed a mooring with an orbiting space laboratory, a key step towards the Chinese goal of having a crewed spacecraft by 2022. For the next few years, China has planned eight Long March-5 launches for the lunar probe, space stations and missions on Mars.  

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