The high-resolution Ziyuan I-03 satellite, developed in collaboration with Brazil, failed to enter orbit after its launch today, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted military officials as saying.
The rocket malfunctioned during the flight and Chinese and Brazilian experts are analysing the cause of the failure. Space officials said a malfunction in the servomechanism and second-stage venire motors apparently caused the failure during the second flight phase.
The satellite was launched at 11.26 am on a Long March 4B rocket from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in northern Shanxi Province. It was a rare failure for the Long March rocket, which has been constantly upgraded and used for dozens of launches.
The last such failure was in August 2011, when a Long-March 2C failed to put a satellite in a designated orbit. The experimental orbiter SJ-11-04 had failed to enter orbit due to the malfunction of the rocket.
Today's failure followed the successful launch of Change-3, China's first lunar mission to land a rover on the moon to explore its surface. The Change-3 probe entered a circular lunar orbit on December 6 and is expected to land on the moon in the next few days.