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

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

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. 

The launch of a Long March 3B/E from Xichang 3 hours ago apparently went well, but there is no official update, leading to questions about the status of the Zhongxing-18 (ChinaSat-18) comms satellite. Need to wait for an update from China. Other theory: 19, 2019

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. 

The CZ-3B is reported to have placed the Zhongxing-18 communications satellite in the correct transfer orbit, but rumours are that there are problems with the payload (maybe solar panels did not deploy or something?)August 19, 2019

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

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


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