China’s launch of a new heavy-lift rocket, the Long March-5 Y2, carrying what the government said was its heaviest ever satellite, failed on Sunday, official news agency Xinhua said. According to Reuters, the same rocket type had been expected to take China’s latest lunar probe to the Moon this year and to return with samples. It is not clear how the timetable for that mission could be affected by the failed launch. President Xi Jinping has prioritized advancing China’s space program to strengthen national security and defense, and the government has stressed it is a purely peaceful initiative. China’s space program has largely operated without many major hitches, though it still has a way to go to catch up with the United States and Russia. In late 2013, China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover landed on the Moon to great national fanfare, but ran into severe technical difficulties.
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