May 23, 2019

Chinese rocket carrying government satellite fails during launch

Gaofen-5 satellite being launched off the back of a Long March 4C rocket on May 9 in China's Shanxi Province.

A Chinese Long March-4C rocket failed during launch on Thursday morning from north China's Shanxi Province, according to China's state run media organization Xinhua.

Why it matters: The rocket was carrying the remote-sensing Yaogan-33 satellite, which is thought to be one in a series of government spy satellites.

Details: "The first and second stages of the rocket worked normally, while the third stage had abnormal operation," Xinhua wrote. "Based on monitoring data, the third stage of the rocket and satellite debris have fallen on the ground. The investigation has started."

The big picture: This failure marks the second this year for China, after a rocket built by the Chinese company OneSpace failed during it first launch. Aside from these failures, China's space plans have been struck with other delays this year.

  • The nation hoped to launch the first flight of its large Long March 5 rocket after a 2017 failure in July, but it's looking less likely that the country will make that date a reality, according to Space News.
  • That slip will also push back the launch of the country's Chang’e-5 lunar sample return mission, which is expected to occur sometime this year.

Go deeper: China's long march to space superpower

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