China has launched a pair of classified technology test satellites aboard a Long March 2C rocket. This morning’s launch is the country’s 18th successful launch of 2018.
The Long March 2C rocket carrying “new technology test” satellites A and B was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre at 03:30 GMT (11:30 local time). Thirty minutes after the successful launch, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) confirmed both satellites had been deployed and were operating nominally.
Although not much is known about the classified satellites, a statement from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) explained that the satellite would, “conduct on-orbit trials of inter-satellite link networking and new ground-based observation technology tests.” [Translated from Chinese with Google Translate]
Oh wow! This is apparently the first stage of the Long March 2C launched today from Xichang smashing into a part of Fuquan city, downrange in Guizhou province, China. That's very toxic hypergolic propellant exploding, but at least the area was likely evacuated ahead of launch. pic.twitter.com/4nUCkaSznK
— Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI) June 27, 2018
As has become routine with launches from Xichang launch centre, following the morning’s launch, a spent booster plummeted back to Earth exploding less than five kilometers away from a small Chinese town. The explosion was caused by the Long March 2C rocket’s excess hypergolic propellant igniting. Luckily, evacuation notices had been posted before the launch ensuring that no one was hurt. Long March 3B boosters caused similar scenes in February and May this year following launches from Xichang.