Yesterday, on August 31, 2016, China launched their medium Long March 4C rocket with Gaofen-10 imaging satellite on atop from LC-9 at Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. After launch conducted yesterday at around 19:00 GMT rocket failed to reach space and put satellite into designated orbit.

Character of this mission was classified and CNSA gave very little details about payload. It was sure, that it is one from CHEOS imaging or SAR satellites; CHEOS is China High-Resolution Earth Observation System which serve, according to different sources for both civilian and military purposes. Due the lack of details on orbit parameter and general flight plan, it is impossible to determine in which moment rocket failed; one thing is sure – it was planned to deliver satellite to orbit after 40 minutes of flight, but USSTRATCOM did not confirmed appearing any new object on Earth’s orbit. China has not given any official statement, but according to Twitter profile of the China Spaceflight, rocket was launched but failed to reach orbit. It was also partially confirmed, basically thanks to pictures uploaded by residents of the Shanyang province, that first stage of the rocket crashed around 600 km from Taiyunan, in drop zone used during Long March 4 missions. It points, that problems probably appeared later, after igniting second or even third stage. It was first failure of Chinese launch vehicle since 2013, when Long March 4B rocket with CBERS-3 Earth remote sensing satellite (result of joint efforts of Brazil and China) crashed after rocket failed to put it into designated orbit.

Long March 4C is upgraded Long March-4B with larger payload fairing and restartable upper stage. It is manufactured by Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology; rocket is usually launched from two space centers: Jiuquan and Taiyuan. Mass of the launch vehicle is 250 t with height of 45.8 m and diameter at 3.35 m. Rocket is not equipped with boosters; first stage is powered by four YF-21C engines fueled with 182 t of N2O4/UDMH and providing thrust at 2962 kN; it is long for 28 m. Second stage is long for 11 m and its propulsion is single YF-24C fueled with 52.7 t of N2O4/UDMH and is providing thrust at 724.04 kN. Upper stage is slightly less wide with diameter at 2.9 m (length of 17.8 m) and is equipped with 2 YF-40A engines with 100.85 kN of thrust and burning 14 t of N2O4/UDMH. Long March 4C is able to deliver to space from 1500 kg (GTO) up to 4200 kg to LEO.