China’s Long March 7A Failure

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China’s Long March 7A Rocket Encountered an Unspecified Failure During its First Launch Mission on Monday.

Though it took off, the newest rocket in the Chinese fleet failed to deliver its payload—a classified satellite—to a stable geostationary orbit. China’s Long March 7A lifted off from Wenchang Satellite Launch Center at 10:34 a.m. EDT. Spectators captured footage and shared it online. Typically, however, China announces such missions to the public about an hour after they’re declared successful. This time, no such announcement came. 

Instead, the Chinese state news agency announced and confirmed failure about two hours after the launch. The announcement specified neither the cause nor the nature of the failure. They did, however, indicate that an investigation would be forthcoming. 

The launch took place in spite of the growing emergency regarding the coronavirus outbreak. Measures to contain the spread were in place at the Wengchang launch site, however. 

That Satellite, Though…

Officials stated earlier that the first payload for China’s Long March 7A was something called “new technology verification satellite-6.” Beyond that, officials offered no other details about the payload. This is nothing new for China, of course. China preps its launches under tight security. And with the state news agency being the only official source of information, finding the real story can be difficult. 

Still, this launch was shrouded in a little more mystery than most. Earlier iterations of the Long March rocket series, such as the Long March, have often been life streamed. After all, when your mission is a success, you definitely want to show it off. This time, however, China doesn’t appear willing to share much more information. 

About China’s Long March 7A

Standing just over 60 meters high, the rocket is an impressive sight. It can lift roughly 573 metric tons into orbit. The Long March 7A is different from the Long March 7 in that it adds a hydrolox third stage. This allows it to send payloads into geostationary transfer orbit (GTO). China’s Long March 7A was to become the countries new workhorse rocket for delivering communication and other satellites into orbit. 

If the Long March 7A turns out to be unusable in the short turn, China’s other option isn’t the best. They can still use their Long March 3B rockets. However, those rockets are based and launch from an inland launch center, Xichang, in Sichuan province. We reported previously about the issues with this launch site

Xichang’s inland location puts local residents in danger of toxic and often flaming debris raining on them as the rocket strips through its stages. 

That said, the move to the Long March 7A, which launches from the coastal Wengchang launch center, could really be a positive step forward for China’s citizens. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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