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Video shows Chinese Long March rocket disintegrate after liftoff

Chinese Long March 3 rocket carrying Indonesian satellite suffers catastrophic failure

Rocket slows and emits smoke. (Weibo, China Aerospace screenshots)

Rocket slows and emits smoke. (Weibo, China Aerospace screenshots)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Communist China's vaunted space program had another setback when a Long March rocket exploded shortly after liftoff on Thursday (April 9).

At 7:46 p.m. on Thursday, a Long March 3B carrying a commercial Indonesian satellite blasted off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. However, only 50 seconds after liftoff, the rocket suffered a catastrophic malfunction, broke apart, and plummeted back to Earth.

That evening the Weibo page "China Aerospace" released a video showing the rocket slow and start to emit smoke before burning debris hurtled to the ground. Oddly, the person posting the video did not appear to realize that a crash had occurred and ironically wrote: "I wish the mission a complete success."

Chinese media outlets reported the rocket suffered a failure during its third stage. The crash marks the second failure by a Chinese-made rocket this year, following the crash of a Long March 7A rocket carrying a classified satellite on March 16.

The payload this time was an Indonesian satellite purposed to provide broadcast and broadband services, reported Space News. The second successive crash could lead to delays with the Apstar-6D satellite, which is slated for launch on another Long March B rocket later in the year.

Chinese netizens left some surprisingly critical comments:

"This time the string of bottle rockets didn't realize the dream of making it to heaven."

"This is what happens with old technology, change can't happen without reform."

"The fact that this was reported is progress."