A brief statement from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a state-run contractor for China’s space program, confirmed an anomaly in the Long March 3B rocket’s third stage left the Chinasat 9A communications satellite in the wrong orbit following a liftoff from the Xichang space center.
An investigation into the cause of the launch failure is underway, CASC said.
The contractor said the Chinasat 9A satellite separated from the Long March 3B’s third stage after the anomaly and deployed its electricity-generating solar panels and antennas. The spacecraft is apparently healthy and in contact with engineers on the ground, who are taking “relevant efforts” to control the satellite, according to CASC.
Officials did not elaborate on what went wrong on the Long March 3B’s third stage, which is powered by a dual-nozzle YF-75 engine that burns a mixture of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants.
Sunday’s launch mishap was the first time one of China’s Long March 3-series rockets has failed to deliver a payload into its intended orbit since August 2009.
Rocketing is hard. Gotta expect some failures. Make them a learning experience.