An Expace Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket failed after launch at 02:00 UTC Dec. 15, resulting in the loss of the first pair of navigation enhancement test satellites for Geely’s autonomous driving plans. Chinese state media confirmed the failure a few hours after launch, stating only that the flight was abnormal and the causes are being investigated.
The failure is the third for the Kuaizhou solid rocket in 17 months for Expace, which operates the rockets as part of defence and missile giant China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation’s (CASIC) space plans.
CASIC had announced plans to launch 7 times in the next three months for a range of customers, and to launch 12 Xingyun narrowband IoT satellites in 2022. CASIC had made a similar promise for 2021 in 2020, just ahead of a September 2020 Kuaizhou-1A failure.
Expace is very well funded, an established industrial base in Wuhan, Xingyun and other satellites to launch and other advantages. However, do the latest troubles open the door to the more private players in China’s launch sector? More: SpaceNews
Senior space industry figure and Long March rocket designer Long Lehao told CCTV recently that the new, Long March 5-derived, triple-core CZ5-DY/921 rocket could launch for the first time in 2026 and open a path to China putting astronauts on the Moon before 2030. More: SpaceNews
- related: Expert: China preparing to land astronauts on moon (China Daily)
China’s 50th orbital launch of the year (China’s previous calendar year record was 39, in 2018 and 2020) sent a second new-generation Tianlian-2 data relay satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit, lifting off from Xichang on a Long March 3B at 1609 UTC Dec. 13.
that a Tianlian-2 k-band sat has a mass of 600 kg, delivers data transmission speeds up to 1.2 Gbit/second between the Chinese Space Station and mission control in Beijing, and a lifespan of 15 years.
Images of the launcher also reveal that a side booster included a parachute for constraining its drop zone downrange. On the topic of rocket debris, evidence of events has become much more scarce on Chinese social media during 2021 (which is not the same as evidence of fewer incidents…efforts are being made
, however). Sources: CASC