China Long March 5 fails again. Rick Fisher, International Assessment and Strategy Center



(Photo: File:GPO comparison of Long March rockets.jpg)

Twitter: @batchelorshow

China Long March 5 fails again. Rick Fisher, International Assessment and Strategy Center

China is investigating the cause of an anomaly which resulted in the failure of its second Long March 5 launch on Sunday. The mission failure could impact the country's major space plans, most immediately the launch of a lunar sample return probe in November.

The Long March 5 (Y2) lifted off from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre at 19:23:23 local time (11:23 UTC, 07:23 ET), carrying the experimental Shijian-18 communications satellite.

The 7 metric tonne satellite was to be sent to geostationary orbit, some 36,000 kilometres above Earth.

Separation of the satellite and the second stage of the Long March 5 was due to take place at T+1714 seconds, nearly 30 minutes after launch.

However, live footage stopped before this point, with Xinhua later releasing a short announcement that launch had failed, with the spacecraft apparently unable to maintain velocity. Further investigation will be carried out, according to Xinhua.

The gist of it being that something major occurred on the Core Stage around T+347 sec when a plume of white gas (propellant?) emerged.

— Spaceflight101 (@spaceflight101) July 2, 2017

"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.

Johnson-Freese notes that the Long March 5 is essential for the future Chinese Space Station and both robotic and human lunar programmes.

"I'm sure the Chinese are very disappointed with this failure, as the delays [to its space station and other plans] have become harder and harder to explain without China being seen as slipping in the advances its been able to make."

Notably Johnson-Freese also points out that the incident perhaps even gives India a "window to make up some ground in the Asian space race for prestige and technology that equates to regional strategic influence."

This was the second flight of the Long March 5, which debuted successfully in November last year. The third flight was due for November, but Sunday's failure calls this schedule into question.

The European Space Agency's Ariane 5 rocket suffered four failures and partial failures in its first 14 launches, but has since put together 80 successful flights in a row.

Sep 14, 04:09 AM
You need to be to post a comment