China misses second launch with flagship in less than a month

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — China has announced a rate of around forty space launches this year, including a long-awaited Martian mission for this summer. But its last launch with its flagship Longue Marche 3B rocket, which nevertheless has around 60 takeoffs to its credit, was a failure.

This Thursday, April 9, 2020, the launch into orbit of an Indonesian telecommunications satellite, Nusantara Dua, from the Xichang satellite launch center in Sichuan province, in the southwest of the country, did not go as smoothly planned, reports Ars Technica.

Ground observations indicate that the first and second stages of the rocket behaved in a nominal (normal) manner during launch, but not the last stage necessary to enter geostationary transfer orbit.

The reasons for this malfunction were not detailed, but in the end, the Indonesian 5.5-ton satellite fell back into the Earth’s atmosphere. This failure comes a few weeks after the failed launch of another Chinese rocket, the Long March 7A, which failed to reach its orbit after taking off from the Wenchang site, on the northeast coast of the island. from Hainan.

The Indonesian telecommunications satellite Nusantara Dua was supposed to replace another telecommunications satellite in geostationary orbit, Palapa-D.

The latter had also been launched by a Long March 3B rocket in 2009 and as Ars Technica points out, ironically, the rocket had at the time already encountered a problem with its third stage. But the satellite still managed to reach geostationary space, thanks to its on-board thrusters.

So far, China has made eight launch attempts this year and two have been unsuccessful. Last month, the launch into orbit of a new Beidou navigation satellite using the Long March 3B launcher had gone off without a hitch, but part of the Chinese rocket had nevertheless landed on Earth. It was in fact the lateral thruster of the three-stage rocket. And this part of the rocket seems to be about 2.25 meters in diameter, according to images shared on the Chinese social network Weibo.

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