Chinese Launch Vehicle Fails on Maiden Flight

Kuaizhou 11 lifts off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

China’s Kauizhou 11 booster failed on its maiden flight on Friday, destroying two satellites and dealing a setback to the nation’s commercial launch industry.

The three-stage, solid-fuel rocket apparently failed during the latter stages of flight after lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Chinese media said an investigation is under way.

Destroyed in the launch failure were the Jilin-1 video satellite and the CentiSpace-1-S2 navigation spacecraft.

Operated by Expace, the booster is a larger version of the Kauizhou 1A launcher. Kauizhou 11 is designed to launch payloads weighing 1,000 kg into sun synchronous orbit.

Expace is a commercial spin-off from the stage-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

China has launched 19 times this year, with 16 successes and three failures. In March, the Long March 7A booster was destroyed during its maiden flight. A Long March 3B failed in flight the following month.