Over the weekend, private Chinese launch provider Landspace failed to reach orbit and a Long March 2C successfully launched the CFOSat oceanography satellite. Although the Chinese commercial launch market will have to continue to wait for their first success, the country’s civil launch provider continues a record-breaking year.
The 19-meter-tall Zhuque-1 was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 08:00 UTC (16:00 local time) on October 27. According to details revealed during a Landspace press conference, the first and second stages performed as expected as did the fairing, separating as planned. However, an issue arose with the third stage that resulted in the payload failing to achieve orbit.
The Zhuque-1 carried the Weila-1 satellite for China Central Television (CCTV). The satellite was developed by Beijing MinoSpace Technology company. It was to be used by CCTV to broadcast a science-focused television series.
The failure of Zhuque-1 slightly blemishes China’s perfect launch record for 2018. Prior to the launch, the country had launched 29 orbital missions with a 100% success rate.
Long March 2C CFOSat launch
Just two days after the failure of the Zhuque-1, a Long March 2C lifted off from the same launch facility at 00:43 UTC (08:43 local time). The launch was flawless with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group (CASC) confirming the payload had been deployed successfully less than an hour after launch.
The CFOSat oceanography satellite is an unlikely joint venture between France and China. It was designed to observe ocean surface characteristics like wind and waves. It is hoped that data collected from the satellite will assist researchers to understand the role these characteristics have on the climate as a whole.
The launch of the CFOSat mission was the 30th aboard a Long March vehicle in 2018. China hopes to launch at least 5 more missions this year with private launch providers likely to add to that.