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Chinese Rocket Places Remote Sensing Satellites in Wrong Orbits

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 28, 2016
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SuperView-1 satellite (Credti:

SuperView-1 satellite (Credit: Beijing Space View Technology Co.)

China’s launch of two commercial remote sensing satellites went awry on Wednesday, leaving the spacecraft in the wrong orbit.

The pair of SuperView-1 satellites lifted off aboard a Long March 2D from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center bound for an orbit of 500 km. data show four objects in elliptical orbits with apogees of 524 km (325.6 miles) and perigees ranging from 212 to 216 km (131.7 to 134.2 miles). One of the other objects was a 2U amateur radio CubeSat.

Unless the perigees of the SuperView-1 satellites can be raised using on-board propellant, it might only be months before they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and burn up.

The satellites are part of a constellation of remote sensing spacecraft being launched by the Beijing Space View Technology Co., Ltd.  The company plans to launch two more SuperView-1 spacecraft in 2017 and additional ones through 2022.

It was second launch mishap this year for China’s space program. In August, a Long March 3C booster failed to orbit the Gaofen-10 remote sensing satellite after launch from the Taiyuan spaceport.

7 responses to “Chinese Rocket Places Remote Sensing Satellites in Wrong Orbits”

  1. ArcadeEngineer says:

    The Superview sats have started raising their perigees, so presumably they have enough fuel to be brought into service.

  2. Jacob Samorodin says:

    I think using the words ‘wrong orbit’ is misleading. The correct journalistic claim should be that they were put into unsatisfactory orbits with inadequate apogees and perigees.

  3. Kapitalist says:

    These are mini-sats, right? Two launched on a rocket half the capability of Soyuz. With perigee of only 200 km I suppose they weren’t intended to live very long.

    • Christopher James Huff says:

      They weren’t intended to have a perigee of ~200 km. That’s what the whole “wrong orbit” part is about, they were supposed to be in circular 500 km orbits. There’s a datasheet available with information about them: they mass 560 kg each and are intended to have a lifetime of 8 years. (

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