Columnist Leonard David

China Prepping for Comeback Launch of Heavy-Lift Long March 5 Rocket Friday

China's Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket rolls out ahead of a return-to-flight launch planned for Dec. 27, 2019.
China's Long March 5 heavy-lift rocket rolls out ahead of a return-to-flight launch planned for Dec. 27, 2019. (Image credit: CCTV)

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. 

Related: Latest News About China's Space Program

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.

Leonard David is author of the recently released book, "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published by National Geographic in May 2019. A longtime writer for, David has been reporting on the space industry for more than five decades. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook. 

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Leonard David
Space Insider Columnist

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He has received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.