China's heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket is being readied for its comeback flight at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China's Hainan Province.
The carrier rocket, coded as Long March 5 Y3, is planned to be launched around the end of December, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA). A LaunchStuff Twitter post pegs the liftoff as slated for Dec. 27.
The launch will be the third ever for the Long March 5, and the first since a July 2017 liftoff ended in failure. An investigation traced the cause of that mishap to a problem with a first-stage engine.
In a newly posted China Central Television (CCTV) video, CNSA deputy head Wu Yanhua reports that engineers and scientists are convinced that all of the prep work for the upcoming launch — whether in terms of technology or quality assurance — has been completed.
"Next, we will fill it with fuel at the launching area and run some tests," Wu told CCTV.
The Long March 5 booster is essential for China's future space station, as well as its moon and Mars exploration plans.
"If the flight is successful, it will be tasked with a series of key missions including launching China's first Mars probe, the Chang'e 5 lunar probe and a core module for the manned space station," Wu said.
A modified version of the rocket, the Long March-5B, will be used to construct China's space station.
You can see the booster being readied for the upcoming flight in this LaunchStuff video.
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Leonard David is author of the recently released book, "Moon Rush: The New Space Race (opens in new tab)" published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime writer for Space.com, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook.(opens in new tab)