China rocket launch fails after liftoff

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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.

The launch of the carrier rocket is slated for 7.20 p.m. local time [11.20 GMT].

"Further investigation will be carried out", the report added, without elaborating.

This is the second launch of the Long March-5 following its successful maiden mission in September a year ago.

CCTV may provide live coverage of the launch. Part of China's multi-billion dollar space programme, this rocket was created to carry space station components, communication satellites and deep-space probes into orbit. The launch failed, as an abnormality was detected during flight.

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Xinhua state news agency reported last week that the Long March-5 Y2 will be fuelled by liquid hydrogen, kerosene and liquid oxygen.

"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". The probe will collect samples before returning to Earth.

The launch window opens on November 29, but the issues causing today's failure will need to be identified and resolved.

The launch was meant to test China's new Dongfanghong-5 (DFH-5) satellite platform and carry out in-orbit experiments including Q/V band satellite communication, satellite-ground laser communication technologies, and an advanced Hull electric propulsion system.

The Long March 5 is a key part of China's human spaceflight and planetary exploration plans.