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There are indications in the Chinese press that suggest the next launch of China’s largest rocket, the Long March 5, will be delayed from its present November launch into 2019.
An online report by People’s Liberation Army Daily, a military newspaper, reports Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO), as saying at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday that the Long March 5B will not make its planned test launch in the first half of 2019.
“Due to the failure of the launch of the Long March 5 remote launch vehicle, the first flight of the Long March 5B carrier rocket will be postponed. The specific implementation time needs to be clarified after coordination with relevant departments,” Xiqiang said.
The November launch was to put up a test communications satellite. Should it slip into 2019, this would likely also cause delays in the launch of China’s first lunar sample return mission, Chang’e-5 (originally scheduled for 2017), the launch of China’s first Mars planetary mission in 2020, and finally the launch of the first module of China’s space station, also set for 2020.
All this once again indicates that the problems with Long March 5 were very serious, and might not yet have been addressed, even with a redesign of its engines.