A Long March 3B rocket launched from the Xichang space center at 2318 GMT (6:18 p.m. EST) on Jan. 11. Credit: Xinhua
Two satellites destined to join China’s Beidou network successfully launched Thursday aboard a Long March 3B rocket, the first two of up to 18 new Chinese navigation craft scheduled for deployment this year.
The newest Beidou satellites lifted off at 2318 GMT (6:18 p.m. EST) Thursday from the Xichang launch center in Sichuan province, a mountainous region in the southwest part of China, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The launch occurred at 7:18 a.m. Beijing time Friday, and the 184-foot-tall (56-meter) Long March 3B turned to the southeast from Xichang, dropping its four strap-on liquid-fueled boosters and core stage to fall back to Earth around two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff.
Dramatic video published on Chinese social media channels appeared to show a piece of the Long March 3B rocket plummeting back to the ground downrange from the Xichang space base, then exploding on impact.
— ChinaSpaceflight (@cnspaceflight) January 12, 2018
Another video apparently shows the burning wreckage of a booster surrounded by onlookers in Guangxi province, according to a GB Times report.
Up close to the ...