It’s Not Easy, You Know

Twice in the last two days SpaceX aborted the same launch. They fixed the issue that stopped the 2 July launch, but had another auto-abort at T-10 seconds yesterday. They had planned to try again today, but that got scrapped. Too bad; a launch on the Fourth woulda been great! (They’re going to try again tomorrow).

As disappointing as this is, look on the bright side, they could be Chinese:

(There’s some stupid registration/paywall thing, so I’ll be quoting from Instapundit’s coverage here )

The unexplained launch failure on July 2 has also ruined an attempt at testing an important new spacecraft bus while also putting an end to the quantum-technology communications satellite based on that bus.

Long March 5s, China’s largest rockets, are supposed to launch the Chang’e 5 lunar probe this year and the first module of China’s planned space station next year; the timing of both missions cannot now be assured. Furthermore, two other new Chinese launchers plus another soon to enter development share much technology with the Long March 5, notably engine components, raising the possibility that the launch failure has implications for them.

China’s chief space-launcher builder, Calt, developed the Long March 5 and builds it at its new industrial base at Tianjin in northern China.

The Long March 5 that failed seemed to ascend normally from its pad at the Wechang launch base on the tropical island Hainan. But on the same day Xinhua news agency, the government’s main mouthpiece, issued a terse statement: “An abnormality occurred during the flight of the rocket. The mission has failed. Experts will analyze the cause of the fault.” The English version of the report said an abnormality had been “detected” in the flight.

The payload of the failed mission was the Shijian 18 geostationary satellite, built on the DFH-5 bus, which was to go into orbit for the first time. Exploiting the capacity of the big new bus, Shijian 18 had a weight of 7 metric tons. Apart from quantum communications technology, it featured a new type of Hall-effect electric thruster.

I have yet to see any other coverage on this, so I don’t know if the thing fell into the drink or came apart in some giant splodey mess and then fell into the ocean.

And then there’s the other part of this: you don’t see (or will likely see) a bunch of regular Chinese citizens forming their own version of SpaceX. As I’ve said, there’s a concern over SpaceX’s use of our tax dollars to fund their efforts, but they’re producing results that NA$A can only dream about.

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