Long March-5 booster’s first liftoff occurred in early November 2016. Mishap on launcher’s second flight in July 2017.
Credit: CASC

An essential launcher for China’s future space station and Moon exploration plans is being readied for a July flight.

China’s next Moon exploration phase: Sample return from the Moon.
Credit: CCTV/Screengrab/Inside Outer Space

The third Long March-5 takeoff follows a mishap of this booster-class on July 2, 2017. An intensive investigation was carried out to identify why the rocket failed less than six minutes after liftoff.

China’s Xinhua news agency reports that Yang Baohua, vice president of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), that the cause of the failure had been found.

Analysis based on computer simulations and ground tests showed that a problem occurred in a turbine exhaust device in the engine of the first stage of the rocket, the China National Space Administration said earlier last year.

The Tianhe core module for China’s Space Station undergoes ground testing.
Credit: CCTV/Screengrab

If the third flight is successful, Yang said at a press gathering, the fourth Long March-5 carrier rocket will be tasked to send the Chang’e-5 lunar probe to the Moon to bring lunar samples back to Earth at the end of 2019.

Space station elements

Shang Zhi, director of the Department of Space under CASC added that the Long March-5B rocket will be the key for China’s future space missions.

A test version of the Long March-5B carrier rocket, Shang advised, which will serve China’s human space exploration agenda, is under development, and the research and development of the core module of the country’s space station have carried on as planned.

Artist view of China’s space station. Credit: CMSE

The Long March-5B rocket can lob into Earth orbit payloads greater than 22 tons and is tasked to rocket the core module and experiment modules of China’s space station in the future.

Joint tests and exercises are planned at the Wenchang Space Launch Center at the end of 2019, Shang said, to make preparations for the maiden flight of the Long March-5B, helping to lay the groundwork for the construction of China’s space station.

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