JIUQUAN, Gansu – China’s experimental satellite, which was launched by the Long March II-C rocket Thursday, failed to enter the designated orbit due to a rocket malfunction.
The rocket carrying the SJ-11-04 orbiter experienced problems during flight after it was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 5:28 pm Beijing Time in Northwest China’s Gansu province.
Beijing News cited an unnamed military observer as saying the malfunction stopped the rocket from entering a planned altitude.
“We don’t know when the problem occurred, so it will be hard to find out the cause,” the observer said, adding the orbiter may land in China’s territory if the malfunction happened at the primary period of the launch and may drop into the Pacific Ocean if the malfunction happened late.
The failure, however, won’t affect the launch of Tiangong-1, which will be carried by a different rocket Long March II-F, the observer said.
Tiangong-1 was designed as a platform that will dock with an unmanned spaceship, Shenzhou VIII, for the country’s first space-docking mission later this year.
It is the first time the Long March II-C rocket failed a mission, Beijing News said. The specific cause of the failure is being analyzed.