The country plans to use the rocket to ferry the Chang’e 5, a trial return mission to the moon, and its first autonomous interplanetary mission to Mars in 2020. For the deployment of China’s proposed space station’s modules into low earth orbit, the Long March 5, a similar but smaller rocket, will be used. Its future space missions, however, will be significantly affected if the Long March 5 experiences anomalies during its return to space.
In its inaugural mission at the end of 2016, the Long March 5 had an unstable launch. The craft’s second launch was also plagued with problems, as equipment on a first-stage engine broke off the rocket. This event has delayed the release of Chang’e 5 which was scheduled to take place in November 2017.
Now that its first stage liquid-hydrogen and liquid-oxygen engines are upgraded and adequately checked, the Long March 5 is well prepared for takeoff. Shijian 20, a large prototype communications satellite, is scheduled to take off aboard the rocket’s first flight in mid to late December.
This post was originally published on Raleigh Recorder