Chinese test satellite fails after launch

This is a still frame from a video of the Long March 3B launch shared in China’s Weibo social media network.

China’s classified Shiyan 10 test satellite failed after launching into orbit on a Long March 3B rocket Monday, Chinese state media said.

The new spacecraft, described by Chinese state media as an experimental satellite, lifted off on a Long March 3B launcher at 4:20 a.m. EDT (0820 GMT) Monday from the Xichang space center in Sichuan province of southwestern China.

The launch occurred at 4:20 p.m. Beijing time. The liquid-fueled Long March 3B rocket, powered by four strap-on boosters and a core stage, headed southeast from Xichang, according to pre-flight airspace warning notices.

The Long March 3B successfully reached the mission’s targeted orbit, but ground teams detected a problem with the rocket’s payload, according to the government-run Xinhua news agency.

The spacecraft “experienced abnormalities,” Xinhua said. “Space engineers are investigating the cause.”

No details were released about the technical problems with the Shiyan 10 spacecraft. Chinese officials also did not disclose any details about Shiyan 10’s mission.

U.S. military tracking data indicate two objects from the launch are circling in an elongated orbit with a perigee, or low point, around 120 miles (200 kilometers) above Earth. The orbital apogee, or high point, was measured around 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers).

The published tracking data showed the objects, possibly the Long March upper stage and the Shiyan 10 spacecraft, are flying in an orbit inclined around 51 degrees to the equator.

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