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HELSINKI — A planned launch of a remote sensing satellite from Taiyuan in north China may have ended in failure, with the lack of an official statement suggesting an issue with the mission.
Airspace closure notices issued days in advance indicated a launch of a Long March rocket from Taiyuan was due to take place between 6:45 and 7:06 p.m. Eastern Wednesday (6:45-7:06 a.m. local time Thursday).
Footage - Images - Media - Platforms - Morning
Amateur footage and images posted on Chinese social media platforms apparently consistent with a morning launch from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center suggest the launch of a Long March 4C three-stage hypergolic rocket took place around 6:49 p.m. Eastern.
A successful launch is usually announced by the main space contractor, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), as soon as the spacecraft have entered their intended orbits. Wednesday’s launch, to place a remote sensing satellite into sun-synchronous orbit, would likely have been followed with an announcement of success within the hour.
Hours - Launch - Statements - CASC - Government
More than 12 hours after the apparent launch, no statements from CASC nor government space authorities had been released.
SpaceNews has contacted the U.S. Air Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron, responsible for space situational awareness including detecting, tracking, cataloging and identifying artificial objects orbiting the Earth for comment on any possible new objects correlating with the launch and is awaiting a reply.
Exception - Events - Crewed - Exploration - Missions
With the exception of major events such as crewed or lunar exploration missions, Chinese launches are rarely openly announced. Indirect means such as NOTAMS — notices filed with aviation authorities to notify of aircraft of potential hazards — are often the only indication of imminent launches.
The payload was expected by amateur aerospace watches within China to be a Yaogan remote sensing satellite, designated Yaogan-33. Chinese state media typically state that Yaogan series satellites are used for “electromagnetic environment surveys and other related technology tests,” but outside...
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