While the previous launch of a Long March 3B/YZ-1 rocket ended in partial failure, the launch vehicle came back to success with the successful launch of two CAST-built navigation satellites, Beidou-3 M1 and Beidou-3 M2, at 1145 GMT on 5 November 2017. The launch of the two satellites took place from the Xichang launch site in China placed the two bird in a 55 degree inclination circular 22,000 km Medium Earth Orbit (MEO).

Long March 3B returns to service on 5 Nov 2017 carrying two Beidou 3 navsats. Courtesy: Xinhua


The previous flight on 19 June was heading for a Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit on the way to a Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) when it partially failed due to a failure on the rocket’s third stage roll control system stranding the CHINASAT 9A spacecraft. It had to recover itself to its final position using its own fuel (losing two thirds of its expected life span). That fault was traced to a quality control issue involving a switch.