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China’s Long March 3B successfully launches satellite, which then fails

China’s Long March 3B rocket successfully launched a military satellite yesterday, though the satellite then had an undisclosed issue which caused it to fail.

Though the satellite failed to function immediately after launch, it appears the launch itself was successful, which based on my criteria means this launch is counted in China’s 2021 launch totals. The leaders in the 2021 launch race are thus:

34 China
23 SpaceX
15 Russia
4 Northrop Grumman

The U.S. still leads China 35 to 34 in the national rankings.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Lee S

    Just to raise a point…. Bob, if you consider this a successful launch, why do you not consider the landing of Beagle 2 a successful landing on Mars?… The craft landed and during its deployment of solar panels somthing went wrong. The fact it functioned at all proves it was functional at time of landing… something went wrong, with the lander, not the landing. I still think your refusal to count Beagle has more to do with bias against ESA, and less with actual science.
    If you have an argument/facts to prove me wrong, please bring them. ( Of course I’m peeved about your omission of a successful landing here… I’m English… But you consider other hardware fails after a good landing as a “successful landing”… )Please explain!

  • Cotour

    Q: Did Bill Clinton not provide the Communist Chinese enough technology in order that this satellite work properly?

  • Lee S: On my Mars maps, I only indicate the landers or rovers that actually worked once they landed. That was their primary mission. Beagle failed in that mission, as did all the other Soviet landers.

    In my launch count, I only count launches where the rocket succeeds in putting the satellite into orbit. That is its primary mission. The count is aimed at tracking the launch industry, not the entire space field. That the satellite failed is no fault of the rocket, and thus that failure is irrelevant to the list.

  • JhonB

    Gee, I am surprised that China would admit to a failure that nobody would know about otherwise.

  • Jhonb

    Well, after reading more thoroughly (One thing I rarely do) I see they did not admit, rather said nothing which looks like failure.

  • Col Beausabre

    “The operation was a success, although the patient subsequently died”

  • pzatchok

    From under my tin foil hat….

    I bet the Chinese would blame the US for this if they could. Maybe we used our lasers to shoot it down.

  • Jeff Wright

    I agree with Robert…don’t bash Energia because of Polyus. I bet it wasn’t closed out properly…they want that launch record badly.

  • John Fisher

    And we are supposed to believe the Chinese when they say their classified satellite failed why exactly?

  • Lee Stevenson

    @Bob, nope… You are wrong… It was a thread discussing that it is actually not so hard to land on Mars as NASA makes out. My point was that Beagle 2 actually landed almost operational and most importantly, intact.
    Beagles failure to deploy all of its solar cells had nothing to do with the actual descent and landing. It was just bad luck it landed in a rock pile.
    By your own metrics…. It was a fail in mission planning and design of the lander. The landing system did EXACTLY what it was designed to do… And delivered a functioning lander in one piece, to the Martian surface.
    If one of the Viking Landers had landed with one foot on a rock and toppled over would you have classed that as a fail?

  • Lee Stevenson: I’m sorry, but I strongly disagree. For any lander that will depend on solar power, the failure of its panels to deploy means the lander failed. Period. This is the same as when a satellite fails to deploy its own solar panel and quickly runs out of fuel.

    My metric for planetary landers is not measuring their ability to land, but their ability to do science once they arrive, which is their primary mission. No one builds planetary landers just to test their landing ability. That would be absurd.

    And yes, if an American lander/rover became a failure because it tumbled at landing, it would be a failure.

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