Chinese Communications Satellite Reaches Planned Orbit After Launch Anomaly

A Chinese communications satellite left in a lower-than-planned orbit due to a botched launch has reached its intended destination, the Xinhua news agency reports.

ChinaSat-9A (Zhongxing-9A) raised its orbit though a series of 10 firings of its on board propulsion system. Xinhua did not say how much the use of the fuel — normally used for station keeping — has reduced the planned lifetime of the spacecraft.

The satellite was launched on June 19 aboard a Long March 3B booster, which malfunctioned in flight.

“An anomaly was found on the carrier rocket’s rolling control thruster, part of the attitude control engine, during the third gliding phase, according to an investigation,” Xinhua reports.

Healthy Chinese Communications Satellite Placed in Wrong Orbit

A Long March 3B rocket placed a Chinese communications satellite into an extremely lopsided orbit on Monday following what official state media say was an anomaly with the booster’s third stage. reports the Zhongxing-9A (Chinasat-9A) spacecraft is in an orbit measuring 193 x 16,357 km. It is not clear whether the geosynchronous satellite can be salvaged.

Chinese media report the spacecraft is healthy with solar panels and antennas deployed.

The satellite was launched aboard a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 00:12 local time.

Zhongxing-9A is designed to provide direct-to-home television broadcast services to China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.