Secret failure: China fails to launch mission to the Moon

China lost a couple of spacecraft which were aimed at the Moon. This was due to a malfunction in the upper stage of a Long March 2C rocket. 

Launch of the Long March 2C rocket. Source: CASC

On March 13, the Long March 2C rocket was launched from the Chinese Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The first indication the mission was facing difficulties was the silence of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). It is engaged in the production of Long March rockets and is the main launch operator of the Celestial Empire.

As a rule, CASC reports a successful launch immediately after the cargo is put into orbit. However, in this case, the corporation did not report anything. Only on March 14, the Xinhua news agency reported that the DRO-A and DRO-B satellites were on board the rocket, which could not be put into a predetermined orbit due to a failure of the upper stage. It is currently unknown whether the devices can be saved, as well as where exactly they are located.

Xinhua also did not provide any details about the purpose of the DRO-A and DRO-B satellites. However, it is believed that they should have entered a distant retrograde orbit around the Moon. It is characterized by high stability and is considered the optimal place to place devices designed to observe the Moon and provide communication.

According to some reports, the DRO-A and DRO-B missions were of a demonstration nature. The devices were intended to communicate with another DRO-L satellite in low Earth orbit. Thus, China tests the technologies necessary to create a navigation and communication infrastructure that will be used to support future lunar missions, including those involving a human landing on the moon.

Most likely, the DRO-A and DRO-B missions are not a main part of the Chinese lunar program, so this fiasco is unlikely to greatly affect the course of its implementation. But curiously, China has not yet recognized that the failed launch was aimed at the moon.

According to

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