A Kuaizhou 1A rocket takes off Saturday from the Jiuquan launch base. Credit: CASIC
A Chinese small satellite launcher failed after liftoff Saturday, destroying a commercial Earth-imaging payload before it could enter orbit.
The Kuaizhou 1A rocket carrying the Jilin 1 Gaofen 02C optical remote sensing satellite lifted off from the Jiuquan space base in northwestern China at 0502 GMT (1:02 a.m. EDT) Saturday, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Xinhua said the launch vehicle “failed to enter the preset orbit” after “abnormal performance was identified during the rocket’s flight.”
The Kuaizhou 1A rocket is operated by Expace, a subsidiary of the government-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., or CASIC. Expace developed the Kuaizhou rocket family — based on Chinese military missile technology — to pursue a growing commercial space market in China.
CASIC initially announced on social media Saturday that the launch was successful, but the posting was later deleted. The official Chinese Xinhua news agency later confirmed the mission failed.
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