China launches Long March 6A carrying Yunhai 3 successfully to orbit…but upper stage then explodes causing debris cloud

by | Nov 14, 2022 | China, Launches, Satellites

The Chinese successfully launched a Long March 6A (CZ-6A) from Taiyan Satellite Launch Centre, China, at 2252 GMT on 11 November. The vehicle was carrying Yunhai 3, a Chinese weather and atmospheric research satellite. Officially owned by China Academy of Sciences (CAS)/National Space Science Center, the circa 100 kg satellite is thought to be using GNSS signal occultation for atmospheric measurement. The spacecraft was delivered into an 850 x 840 km orbit inclined at 98.8 degrees relative to the equator.

While the launch itself went well, there was a subsequent event which will have caused China embarrassment. US Space Command reports that the Long March 6A (CZ-6A) upper stage (Cat No 54236, Int No 2022-151B) is believed to have exploded in an 853 x 812 km orbit at 98.8 degrees inclination at around 0525 GMT on 12 November, causing at least 50 pieces of tracked debris in the 500-700 km orbit range.

Jonathan Freeman contributed to this article

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