|Long March-5 rocket|
|Shijian-18 experimental communications satellite|
Updated 9:59 AM ET, Sun July 2, 2017
China's second launch of its new-generation Long March-5 rocket was declared a failure after liftoff Sunday.
Details of what happened are unknown.
Rocket carried communications satellite.
— Wenchang, China (CNN)The second launch of China's new-generation Long March-5 carrier rocket failed Sunday -- dealing a blow to the country's ambitious space aspirations.
Carrying an experimental communication satellite, China's largest rocket lifted off at 7:23 p.m. local time (7:23 a.m. ET) toward clear skies from the seaside Wenchang space launch center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
But 40 minutes later, the state-run Xinhua news agency flashed a headline declaring the launch a failure -- without providing any details.
Dubbed "Chubby 5" for its huge size -- 5 meters in diameter and 57 meters tall -- the LM-5 rocket is designed to carry up to 25 tons of payload into low orbit, more than doubling the country's previous lift capability.
Xinhua initially tweeted: "#BREAKING: China's launch of Long March-5 Y2 carrier rocket fails."
It then tweeted: "Anomaly was detected during its flight and further investigation will be carried out."
China says launch of Long March-5 Y2 "unsuccessful". Anomaly was detected during its flight and further investigation will be carried out.
— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) .
Before the launch attempt, Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the US Naval War College and an expert on China's space program, said the rocket would give China "heavy lift capabilities" needed to develop a large space station.
"More generally, the LM-5 provides China with capabilities to reach destinations previously out of reach, including interplanetary," she said.
China has announced plans to land a robotic probe on the dark side of the moon later this year and to reach Mars around 2020.
All such future missions will depend on the LM-5 and space officials told reporters Sunday that the latest launch would help perfect the rocket design, including enabling it to send a space station into orbit "in a year or two."
Originally announced in 2001, the LM-5 project initially suffered lengthy delays because of funding challenges and difficulties in developing new technologies for the first Chinese launcher to fully use liquid propellant