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China Just Launched a Communications Satellite. Is It in Trouble?

A Long March 3B rocket carrying the Chinasat-18 communications satellite lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's Sichuan province on Aug. 19, 2019.
A Long March 3B rocket carrying the Chinasat-18 communications satellite lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's Sichuan province on Aug. 19, 2019.
(Image: © Imagine China/Newscom)

A Chinese Long March 3B rocket launched a new communications satellite into orbit today (Aug. 19) — but its days might be numbered. 

After lifting off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China at 8:03 p.m. local time (8:03 a.m. EDT; 1203 GMT), the rocket should have deployed the Zhongxing-18 satellite, also known as Chinasat-18, into orbit about 25 minutes into the mission, according to NASAspaceflight.com

However, more than half a day later, officials have yet to provide an update on the condition of the satellite or whether it separated from the rocket as planned. 

In lieu of a formal announcement, rumors have begun to swirl on social media. On China's social media site Weibo, one blogger and moderator by the screen name "Aerospace" reported that although the rocket performed well, the satellite itself has experienced a problem and is "still adjusting." 

According to that post, official news regarding the status of Chinasat-18 should come from China's state news outlets tomorrow (Aug. 20). Check back here for more updates on the satellite. 

Chinasat-18 is a civilian telecommunications satellite built to provide broadcast services for Chinese television, phone, radio and internet providers, NASAspaceflight.com reported. It was designed to last for 15 years in orbit. 

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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