HELSINKI – The launch of a Kuaizhou-1A satellite carrying a remote sensing satellite ended in failure after take off from Jiuquan on Saturday.
The Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket took off from a transporter erector launcher in Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert at 01:02 am Eastern Saturday. Amateur footage of the apparent launch appeared on Chinese social media shortly after.
Chinese launches to synchronous earth and solar orbits are generally successfully confirmed within one hour of takeoff. State media provided official confirmation of the (Chinese) bankruptcy five hours after the launch. The concise report states that the specific reasons for the launch anomaly are further analyzed and investigated.
The launcher was carrying the Jilin-1
An unofficial social media post that previously claimed the launch was successful along with the launch images was later deleted by Sina Weibo (see Twitter republish).
Saturday’s mission was the fourth Chinese failure of 2020 of 26 launches. Inaugural launch of the Long March 7A and Expace Kuaizhou-11 failed, while a problem with the Long March 3B workhorse led to the Indonesian’s loss Palapa-N1 communications satellite.
The launch anomaly also calls into question two further launches of Kuaizhou-1A scheduled for 17 and 22 September. In the past few days, airspace closure notices have been issued for all three launches. Three US launches (also including the new LauncherOne and Astra rockets) and an Iranian orbital launch attempt also ended in failure in 2020.
The Kuaizhou-1A rockets are operated by Expace, a nominally trading company. However, it is owned and supported by China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. (CASIC), a giant state-owned enterprise, missile manufacturer and defense contractor.
The Kuaizhou-1A, understood as derived from missile technology, consists of three solid stages and a liquid-fueled upper stage, and is capable of carrying a payload of 200 kilograms in a 700-kilometer solar synchronous orbit (SSO) .
Jilin-1 Earth observation satellites are developed and operated by Changguang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd. (CGST). CGST is a commercial offshoot of the Changchun State Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Saturday’s launch was the first failure in ten flights to Kuaizhou-1A. The launch was the second failure in a few hours after that resolution of the Astra Rocket 3.1 vehicle during its first stage of combustion.