Long March 5 Y2 transporting to launch site Long March 5 Y2 transporting to launch site - ImagesGram

Long March 5 Y2 transporting to launch site

Long March 5 (LM-5, CZ-5, or Changzheng 5) is a Chinese heavy lift launch system developed by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT). CZ-5 is the first Chinese vehicle designed from the ground up to focus on non-hypergolic liquid rocket propellants. Currently, two CZ-5 vehicle configurations are planned, with maximum payload capacities of ~25,000 kilograms (55,000 lb) to LEO and ~14,000 kilograms (31,000 lb) to GTO. The Long March 5 roughly matches the capabilities of American EELV heavy-class vehicles such as the Delta IV Heavy.

On its first launch from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Center on 3 November 2016, the CZ-5 placed its payload in a suboptimal but workable initial orbit. Its second launch on 2 July 2017 failed due to an engine problem in the first stage.


Since 2010, Long March launches have made up 15–25% of all space launches globally. Growing domestic demand has maintained a healthy manifest. International deals have been secured through a package deal that bundles the launch with a Chinese satellite, circumventing the U.S. embargo.

The Chinese government approved the development of the Long March 5 rocket in 2007 following two decades of feasibility studies. It was to be manufactured at a facility in Tianjin, a coastal city near Beijing. In 2008 the first launch of the Long March 5 was predicted to occur in Wenchang of the southernmost island province of Hainan, where a new satellite launch center was allegedly being constructed.

The first CZ-5 rocket to be launched completed production and testing in Tianjin manufacturing facility around 16 August 2016 and shipped to the launch centre on Hainan island shortly after.


The Chief Designer for the CZ-5 rocket was Long Lehao. The main objective for the CZ-5 rocket was to fulfill China's requirement for large payload to LEO and GTO missions for the next 20–30 years. The CZ-5 project was initially announced in February 2001, with initial development slated to begin in 2002 and the first versions of the vehicle to go into service by 2008. However, funding was only finally granted in 2007 as revealed by the developers during the Northeast China exhibition.

On 30 October 2007, the construction of the CZ-5 production plant began in the TEDA West area near Binhai New Area in Tianjin. The production facility was constructed near the harbor to reduce the logistical problems associated transporting rockets over land and allow easier transportation by sea from Tianjin to Wenchang Launch Facility on Hainan Island. The new production facility would have an area totaling more than half a million square meters and cost RMB 4500 million (USD 650 million), with the first stage of the construction scheduled to be completed by 2009. When the production facility is completed in 2012, it would be capable of a maximum output of thirty CZ-5s annually. As of July 2012, development of the 1,200 kN thrust LOX/kerosene engine was test fired. New photos of CZ-5 and of its tests were released in March 2015.

The first CZ-5 was shipped from the port of Tianjin in North China at 20 September 2015 for a rehearsal (some of the drills carried out at Wenchang Satellite Launch Center involved both the launch vehicle and a probe) of a scheduled Chang'e-5 lunar mission planned around 2017. The first test flight was initially scheduled for 2014, but this subsequently slipped to 2016.

First flight

The launch was planned to take place at around 10:00 UTC 3 November 2016, but several issues, involving an oxygen vent and chilling of the engines, were detected during the preparation, causing a delay of nearly three hours. The final countdown was interrupted three times due to problems with the flight control computer and the tracking software.  The rocket finally launched at 12:43 UTC.  According to an internet blogger on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo, a minor problem occurred during flight and the rocket put the YZ-2 upper stage and satellite into an orbit that was less accurate than expected. However, the trajectory was corrected with the YZ-2 upper stage and the payload was inserted into the desired orbit.
Second flight

Its second launch on 2 July 2017 experienced an anomaly shortly after launch and was switched to an alternate, gentler trajectory. However, it was declared a failure 45 minutes into the flight.  The cause of the failure was confirmed by CASC and related to an anomaly which happened on one of the YF-77 engines in the first stage.

The YF-77 booster engine was test-fired in 2018 after CASC redesigned it.  The next Long March 5 launch date was estimated to be in January 2019, Still, after repeated cancellations and delays, the next launch is expected to return to flight late in 2019, but not sure exactly when.