China’s first attempt to launch a privately developed rocket capable of carrying a satellite into space was a failure.
Beijing-based Landspace said that the first and second stage of its ZQ-1 rocket worked normally on Saturday, but something went wrong with the third stage.
The ZQ-1 was the first three-stage rocket built by a private company in China.
Video posted by a Chinese news site showed Landspace’s 62-foot tall, red-and-white rocket lifting off against clear blue skies, according to the Associated Press.
The company said that “cowling separation was normal, but something abnormal happened after the second stage.” The statement on its Weibo social media account did not elaborate.
Chinese media reports said the rocket was carrying a satellite for state broadcaster CCTV.
“We still believe that building rockets is the right strategy for the company. We are the first Chinese private company to build a three-stage carrier rocket. That’s already a great achievement,” said a statement from the company, reports China.org.cn.
The Chinese, who put an unmanned spacecraft known as Jade Rabbit on the moon in 2013, have ambitions to put a person on the moon and send a mission to Mars by 2025. Chinese President Xi Jinping sees its space program as being vital to national prestige.