A CHINESE news agency yesterday blamed the US-manufactured satellite for the explosion last Thursday which destroyed the satellite and the Long March carrier rocket. The China News Service (CNS) said yesterday its reporter had 'clearly' pinpointed the site using slow-motion replay. '[The TV video picture] clearly shows that about 50 seconds after liftoff, the very top part of the rocket caught fire, exploded and [that] spread to the first and second stages of the rocket triggering the explosion of the [whole] rocket,' it said. The Chinese authorities have not given an official explanation for the explosion involving a Chinese-made Long March 2E rocket and the US$160 million (HK$1.2 billion) Apstar 2 satellite shortly after take-off, saying a joint investigation with the Americans was still underway. The Apstar 2 satellite was manufactured by the US Hughes Aircraft for the Hong Kong-based APT Satellite Company. In addition to claiming the explosion was caused by the satellite, the CNS despatch ruled out the booster or the main rocket as a cause. It said the explosion could not have been caused by the rocket judging from its ignition time. It said the ignition time of the first stage of the rocket was 159 seconds after take-off, while the booster rocket was timed to separate from the main trunk of the rocket 32 seconds earlier - indicating that they could not be responsible for the explosion, CNS said. Moreover, CNS stressed that the Long March 2E rocket used by the Great Wall Corporation was 'technologically advanced and mature and its quality is reliable'. 'The whole production process of this rocket is under strict management [with] detailed quality control,' it said. It quoted a Great Wall Corporation official who denied future launches would be re-scheduled.