Chinese rocket fails to put two satellites into correct orbits

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Tracking data suggests that two Earth-observation satellites launched today by China’s Long March 2D rocket were placed in the wrong orbits.

The two SuperView 1, or Gaojing 1, satellites are flying in egg-shaped orbits ranging from 133 miles (214 kilometers) to 325 miles (524 kilometers) in altitude at an inclination of 97.6 degrees. The satellites would likely re-enter Earth’s atmosphere within months in such a low orbit, and it was unclear late Wednesday whether the craft had enough propellant to raise their altitudes.

The high-resolution Earth-observing platforms were supposed to go into a near-circular orbit around 300 miles (500 kilometers) above the planet to begin their eight-year missions collecting imagery for Siwei Star Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., a government-owned entity.



  • LocalFluff

    “egg-shaped orbits”, how the heck is that possible?
    The 2D launcher is smaller than a Soyuz, and has been very successful during a quarter of a century. The 32nd launch seems to be the first one that failed, according to Wikipedia.

  • Gealon

    It’s called an elliptical orbit. It’s why orbital altitudes are usually given in two values, there is a low end and a high end to the orbit.

    And yes, how the heck is that possible? I thought the Chinese never did anything wrong.

  • LocalFluff

    Ellipses aren’t fat in one end like eggs are. Ellipses are easy to describe mathematically, ovals (=eggs) are not. It’s surprising to see a space news site use the home made term “egg shaped”. At least it reminds about the 3D quality of the movement.

  • Gealon

    I believe the writer of the article was trying to describe an ellipse, either without actually knowing the word, or was dumbing the concept down for readers. In either case Ellipse should have been used.

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