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China Rocket Launch Reportedly Failed

By Yeshi Dorje September 02, 2016

The South China Morning Post and multiple space enthusiast websites are reporting that China suffered a failed space launch Thursday morning, resulting in the destruction of "one of the country's most advanced earth observation satellites."

Chinese state news media have yet to report on the attempted liftoff of a Long March 4C rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi province.

"A website built and run by Chinese professional astronautic experts ... said [the rocket] failed to insert its payload, the Gaofen-10 satellite, into its designated orbit," the SCMP is reporting. The Hong Kong-based newspaper also says police in Shanxi's neighboring, Shaanxi, posted photos of a search and recovery mission for debris on Thursday.

According to The Wall Street Journal and Spaceflightinsider.com, Chinese officials usually announce space launches within hours of liftoff, and U.S. Strategic Command typically confirms the arrival of new objects in space. Neither of these events occurred on Thursday, indicating a failed launch.

The Journal is also reporting that some Chinese social media users on Weibo criticized Chinese state media for reporting on Thursday's launchpad explosion of an unmanned SpaceX rocket in Cape Canaveral, Florida, while opting to remain silent about the Gaofen-10 failure.

The SpaceX rocket exploded on the launchpad during a test, in preparation for Saturday's scheduled launch of a Facebook satellite intended to beam high-speed internet signals for users in Africa.

SpaceX said only that "an anomaly" caused the explosions. The company's South African-born founder, entrepreneur Elon Musk, said the rocket was being filled with propellant when problems with the upper-stage liquid-oxygen tank resulted in the massive blasts.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Tibetan Service.

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