Chinese Kuaizhou 1A Rocket Fails After Launch

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A Kuaizhou 1A rocket failed to orbit the Jilin-1 Gaofen 02C optical remote-sensing satellite after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Saturday afternoon.

The official Xinhua news agency attributed the failure to the “abnormal performance” of the launch vehicle. An investigation has commenced.

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Astra Rocket Falls Back to Earth, Explodes on Impact

Astra’s attempt to launch its Rocket 3.1 booster from Alaska came to grief on Friday as the first stage failed in flight, causing the booster to fall back to Earth where it exploded on impact.

“Successful lift off and fly out, but the flight ended during the first stage burn,” the company tweeted. “It does look like we got a good amount of nominal flight time. More updates to come!”

Dramatic video posted on Twitter showed the rocket lift off from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island. The roar of the engine suddenly stopped, and the rocket fell to Earth.

“We are excited to have made a ton of progress on our first of three attempts on our path to orbit! We are incredibly proud of our team; we will review the data, make changes and launch Rocket 3.2, which is nearly complete,” Astra tweeted.

Rocket 3.1 after liftoff from Kodiak Island in Alaska. (Credit: Astra)

Astra, which is based in Alameda, Calif., is attempting to develop an inexpensive rocket capable of launching payloads weighing 25–150 kg (55–331 lb) to a 500 km (311 mile) high sun-synchronous orbit for the ultra-low price of $1 million per flight.