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Chang Zheng-3B suffers third stage problem during Palapa-D launch

The Chinese have suffered a problem during the launch of the Indonesian Palapa-D communications satellite via a CZ-3B Chang Zheng-3B (CZ3B-12) launch vehicle. The launch took place at the Xi Chang Satellite Launch Center, in Sichuan Province on Monday at 09:28 UTC, but failed to place the spacecraft in the required orbit – due to an issue with the CZ-3B’s third stage.
The Palapa-D satellite was scheduled to replace the Palapa-C2 (23864 1996-030A) satellite – which is due to come to the end of its life in 2011 – at 113.0 degrees East. It is unknown at this time if the spacecraft can be saved, though this is unlikely.

Latest reports from the Chinese State media – which appeared to undergo a news blackout for several hours after launch – claim the problem is related to a failure of third stage ignition.

The new satellite was ordered to Thales Alenia Space in July 2007 and is based on the Spacebus 4000B3 platform – which has a larger capacity than the Palapa-C2. It is equipped with 24 standard C-band, 11 extended C-band and 5 Ku-band transponders, and will cover Indonesia, ASEAN countries, Asia, Middle East and Australia.