China’s Long March 4C (CZ-4C) launch vehicle has suffered a launch failure. The three-stage rocket, which was launched at approximately 1853 GMT on 31 August 2016 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in China, was carrying the Gaofen 10 Earth observation satellite. Despite an original Chinese news black out on the event, near intact stage debris found on mountainsides in Shanxi Province down range from the launch site indicated that the launch had taken place. Sources indicate that the stages and fairings landed in their planned landing areas but that US Strategic Command had not managed to track any satellite from the launch indicating that the orbital launch attempt was a failure.
China Great Wall Industry Corp (CGWIC) the firm that markets commercial launches of the Long March 1- 4 rocket series, later admitted that a failure had occurred and that it was in a stage unique to the Long March 4C rocket i.e. the third stage. It is suspected that the Long March 4C rocket suffered a suspected restart failure of the third stage of the rocket resulting in orbital velocity not being achieved. The third stage and Gaofen 10 spacecraft was destroyed as the assembly re-entered the Earth atmosphere.
Owned by CASIC, the China Aerospace and Industry Corporation, the Gaofen series of imaging satellites are officially civilian but are believed to have military applications.
Updated and revised: 8 September 2016.