China’s space programme suffered another setback on Thursday night with its second rocket launch failure in less than a month. Officials are investigating what caused a malfunction during the third stage of the Long March-3B launch after lift-off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in southwest Sichuan province at 7.46pm with an Indonesian Palapa-N1 satellite, Xinhua reported. “The first and second stages of the rocket performed well, but the third stage malfunctioned,” the report said. “Debris from the third stage of the rocket and the satellite fell [to the ground]. The launch mission failed.” China’s state media did not say where the rocket landed, but the office of Guam Homeland Security and Civil Defence said “a fiery object over the Marianas sky” observed on Thursday evening was likely connected to the failed launch. Video footage of the burning debris falling from the sky was widely circulated on social media. The setback follows another failed launch on March 16, when China’s new Long March-7A , a three-stage, medium-lift, liquid-fuel rocket, encountered an “abnormality” minutes after lifting off from its launch site in the southern island province of Hainan. China’s BeiDou system one satellite closer to full operation The satellite lost on Thursday – the Nusantara 2 – was built in China for Indonesian telecommunication companies Pasifik Satelit Nusantara and Indosat Ooredoo. It was intended to replace an older satellite to provide internet and broadcasting services in Indonesia and across the Asia-Pacific region to Australia, The Jakarta Post reported earlier this month. It is not known if the failed launch will have an impact on other Long March-3B satellite launches planned for later in the year. Introduced in 1996, the Long March-3B – also known as the CZ-3B or LM-3B – has been the main orbital carrier rocket of China’s space programme. It was used to carry many of the satellites that make up China’s BeiDou navigation system, with the latest addition being in March. For that launch, engineers used parachutes to control where the rocket’s boosters would land after being discarded after lift-off so as to minimise the impact on people living below, state media reported. The latest version of the Long March-3B entered service in 2007 and is dedicated to launching heavy communications satellites of up to 5.5 tonnes into geostationary transfer orbits. Sign up now and get a 10% discount (original price US$400) off the China AI Report 2020 by SCMP Research. Learn about the AI ambitions of Alibaba, Baidu & JD.com through our in-depth case studies, and explore new applications of AI across industries. The report also includes exclusive access to webinars to interact with C-level executives from leading China AI companies (via live Q&A sessions). Offer valid until 31 May 2020.