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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.

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On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • 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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