After the US$416 million loss of the Falcon Eye 1 in a Vega launch failure, it was reported that the Chinasat-18 (Zhongxing-18) satellite has suffered a similar demise – albeit after a successful launch by a Chinese Long March 3B/G2. The launch took place at 1203 GMT on 19 August 2019 from Xichang Launch Centre in China. Separation of the spacecraft into its correct geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) was confirmed. However, it has now been revealed that there was failure on the spacecraft’s solar array deployment system which meant that not enough power could be generated. As the remaining power drained from the batteries, the satellite became stranded in GTO. Attempts to recover the spacecraft have reportedly failed.
The Chinasat 18 spacecraft is believed to have been insured to a total value of circa US$250 million on both the Chinese market, and directly and indirectly (via reinsurance), on the international market. It is unclear how much of this total is retained by the Chinese market.
At 5,200 kg, the Chinasat 18 ( Zhongxing 18) is a large mixed Ku-/Ka-band communications satellite owned by China Satcom. It was built by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST)’s ITS (Institute of Telecommunication Satellites) subsidiary using CAST’s DFH-4E bus.