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Carrying an experimental communications satellite, China's largest rocket lifted off at 7:23 p.m. local time (7:23 a.m. ET) toward clear skies from the seaside Wenchang space launch center on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
But 40 minutes later, the state-run Xinhua news agency flashed a headline declaring the launch a failure -- without providing any details.
Dubbed "Chubby 5" for its huge size -- 5 meters in diameter and 57 meters tall -- the LM-5 rocket is designed to carry up to 25 tons of payload into low orbit, more than doubling the country's previous lift capability.
Xinhua initially tweeted: "#BREAKING: China's launch of Long March-5 Y2 carrier rocket fails."
It then tweeted: "Anomaly was detected during its flight and further investigation will be carried out."