A file photo of a previous Long March 2D rocket liftoff. On March 17, 2018, China marked its eighth orbital launch of 2018 to send the fourth Land Surveying Satellite into space. Photo Credit: Chinese Academy of Sciences
A Long March 2D rocket took to the skies March 17, 2018, sending China’s fourth Land Surveying Satellite into orbit. The booster roared skyward at 3:10 a.m. EDT (07:10 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China’s Gansu Province.
Given that the task of the mission was to deliver the satellite into a low-Earth orbit (LEO), the flight most likely lasted for about 10 minutes. The exact timeline of the mission remains undisclosed as China usually does not reveal any details about its orbital launches, including pre-launch preparations.
Sticking to the nominal flight profile, the Long March 2D’s first stage should have powered the mission for about three minutes. During this phase, the rocket started heading South over mainland China and toward the South China Sea. When the first stage’s fuel was depleted, it separated and fell away from the second stage, which took control over the mission when its YF-24C cluster engine ignited.
The second stage, tasked with deploying the ...