China has lost a remote sensing satellite after the failure of a Long March 4C rocket. The failure is the first the country’s state-run launch provider has suffered in over two years.
The Long March 4C carrying the Yaogan-33 satellite was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center on May 22 at 22:49 UTC. Initially, it appeared that the launch had been carried out successfully. However, Chinese media began to report an abnormality soon after. Xinhua News Agency, the country’s state-run press agency reported on May 23 that despite the rockets first and second stages operating nominally, the rocket’s third stage had failed.
Although not much is known about the Yaogan-33 satellite, it is believed to have been the second of the Yaogan-29 series developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology. The satellite reportedly has the capability to capture Earth imagery with 5-meter spatial resolution and 40-kilometre swath width in a high-resolution mode.
The failure is the first of any Long March rocket in over two years. The last, in December 2016, saw an issue with the upper stage of a Long March 2D result in three satellites being deployed into a lower than planned orbit. Two of the satellites were able to raise their orbit, however, the third, a CubeSat did not have the capability.