Skip to main content

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 credit: 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 (opens in new tab)

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. 

See more

In lieu of a formal announcement, rumors have begun to swirl on social media. On China's social media site Weibo (opens in new tab), 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. 

See more

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

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com (opens in new tab) or follow her @hannekescience (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) and on Facebook (opens in new tab).

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Hanneke Weitering
Hanneke Weitering

Hanneke Weitering is an editor at Space.com with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.