China’s Long March 5 Launch Fails

Chinese media report the launch of the Long March 5 rocket carrying an experimental communications satellite failed in flight on Sunday.

“An anomaly occurred during the flight of the rocket, which blasted off at 7:23 p.m. from Wenchang Space Launch Center in southern province of Hainan,” the Xinhua news agency reported.

Xinhau provided no further details about the failure. An investigation is underway.

The Shijian 18 communications satellite was lost in the accident. The spacecraft was the first in a new class of DFH-5 satellites designed for high-power performance communications. Shijian 18 would have tested ion propulsion and other technologies.

China’s most powerful booster, the Long March 5 had a successful maiden launch last November. It is slated to launch the Chang’e-5 lunar mission later this year. Chang’e 5 will land on the moon and return soil samples to Earth.

The failure comes two weeks after a Long March 3B suffered a malfunction that left the ChinaSat 9A communications satellite in a lower than planned orbit.

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  • passinglurker

    Its times like this that I wish china’s program wasn’t so shy the LM-5 is such a cool rocket its a shame to hear about a failure without any crunchy details.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    A major problem with this program is the infiltration of counterfeit Chinese parts into the vehicle…

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Wow, that’s a fascinating problem given the bogus parts manufacturer can’t hide their parts in large parts pool with dispersed warehouses and inventory control systems that are not linked. The worse I ever saw when I was building spacecraft in the 90’s was a U type chassis mount connector that was mirrored about the vertical axis. The part was mislabeled. Lockheed inventory control missed it. However, even that was a not a ‘bogus part’ rather a incorrectly marked part that people missed up until the guy (me) who was making the cable harness noted that pin (h) was not going to hit on the correct side of the chassis mount receptacle. Aviation has had several eras of unrated parts being sold to the community as rated parts, but those get to hide in a very big system. I’d love to see how a un-rated part make it into the inventory of very specific launch vehicle filled with unique parts. That’s a very hard thing to do, and how could it be profitable? A launch vehicle is operated so close to the point of self destruction it’s even more believable to me that it just failed because it’s not yet matured.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    I was being snarky I have no insight here. But I have been put through counterfeit Chinese part training and dealt with this myself. If everyone else in the World has to deal with these clowns why shouldn’t they.

  • Lol!

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Fascinating, what field if you don’t mind me asking?

  • windbourne

    i know the feeling. I have dealt twice with chinese spies.
    The assault on the west is very real.

  • HyperJ

    This is still a remarkably open program compared to previous ones. We even got a live video coverage of the launch! The rough details will come out in time. It only happened a few hours ago…

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The US has always been compromised by foreign intelligence agencies. Beyond institutional humiliation and national pride it means little. Exceptions are events like John Walker and the USS Pueblo. Even with that considered in the long arc of history the US has been immune to the effects of having foreign intelligence agencies run rife through our system. We still win historical stand offs. China is different not only that they are compromising us in much the way the USSR did during the Cold War, but they have co-opted the US business class. By the US business class accepting Chinese labor, venture capital, infrastructure, and exit clause in exchange for technology transfer, and transferring institutional knowledge in the working class and management from the US to China. That’s far more damaging to the long term prospects for the position of the US in global politics in the coming years than the actions of intelligence agencies.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Electronic equipment vendor with global supply chain and customer base. We found suppliers sometimes have a crew run an unauthorized third shift stamping out parts. Of course they queue up the pick and place bots with lower quality surface mount components and don’t do any Q/A at all. Customer gets a good deal on 100s/1000s of parts in their environment with a horrendous fall out rate (or other weird anomalies hard to diagnose). They then come to us and say what gives? Often counterfeiters go through all the effort but still can’t get the font on the label right. For some things we now have to do a crypto handshake to verify if the part is legit.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Both directly by spies and indirectly by manufacturing shenanigans. Of course most people put it it in the “cost of doing business” category, but a big cost none the less.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    So after your company’s misadventure in overseas production, is there any hope of brining the work into a nation with honest players? Or are the profit margins so important that management tolerates the moonlight shift?

  • JamesG

    2nd stage failure or maybe one or more strapons failed to jettison?

  • Jacob Samorodin

    In Communist China they have firing squads, press censorship, arbitrary arrest authority, and tolerance for torture to extract information if they feel it necessary. Does anyone seriously think the Chinese government will not get to the bottom of this speedily? Any Chinese supplier who deliberately or flippantly supplied shoddy parts to the production of this Long March 5 will soon enough be exposed by the Chinese secret police and those responsible for those shoddy parts will face either a single shot to the back of the head, or a hail of bullets when they are tied to a post. As far as inventory control personnel? Jail time or a ‘re-education’ camp is in their future….Sadly, too many powerful rocket programs and projects since the time of Nazi Germany have used the brutal power of totalitarian regimes to advance the cause of more powerful rocketry in the past 75 years. The USA, Japan, EU and India seem to be the exceptions….If you don’t believe me, ask survivors of the Mittlework facilities, or of the survivors of the North Korean missile research and development programs.

  • Jacob Samorodin

    So? With 2017 out the window, will it be 2018 or 2019 when the Chinese will try to send Chang-e 5 to the Moon?

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    Not much choice. Competitors will do the same and you’ll be out of business, shareholders hate that too. Very hard to sell American made electronics in the 21 century.

  • JamesG

    Depends on how much of a pause they do for hand wringing, finger pointing, and fix fixing. No doubt most of the metal has been cut and and assembled for the launcher already. If the problem is a straightforward one, they might not lose any time at all.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Doubtful you’d be out of business, rather I’d wager it would result in slightly lower profits and be a psychological blow to the illusion that the Chinese government will let you sell at high prices once the Chinese middle class is firmed up. I still blame your share holders and corporate board for selling out, and being bitch slapped by Chinese extra-curricular production, on the promise that maybe the Chinese will play fair later. They’ll bleed you to the point where you’ll sell out to them for pennies on the dollar, and you’ll still lose your job after decades of teaching them your craft. I’ve been very lucky I have not had to be in a position to transfer my particular skill set to a hostile nation. The poor folks like you will have to watch your kids and grandkids go to war against a group of people armed with production lines you designed and perfected, then gave them away in the name of some extra pieces of paper and ledger entries in a computer for the shareholders and corporate board.

  • Sam Moore

    Strap-on jettison was fine on stream. It’s looking likely it was a non-catastrophic failure of the core stage, probably an early shutdown of one of the engines.

  • Mr Snarky Answer

    No your are wrong about this. If a firm’s profitability is significantly less than peers in the same segment you’re dead company walking. You’ll get eaten alive.

  • publiusr

    Nah–Mike Pence touched that too–or was it another Gary Hudson project–that’s the kiss of death right there.