Chinese-Brazilian Satellite Destroyed after Long March Rocket Fails

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PARIS — The Chinese-Brazilian CBERS-3 Earth observation satellite was destroyed Dec. 9 following a failure of a Chinese Long March 4B rocket launched from China’s Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, the Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) announced.

AEB said the CBERS-3 satellite, built mainly in Brazil, appeared to have been in good health as the rocket launched, but that it likely fell to Earth when the rocket failed.

“Preliminary indications are that the satellite has returned” to Earth, AEB said. “There was a malfunction of the launch vehicle.”

AEB said that China and Brazil nonetheless are determined to pursue the CBERS program, which began in 1999 with the launch of CBERS-1. CBERS-2 was launched in 2003, and CBERS-2B followed in 2007. Work on a CBERS-4 satellite would start immediately, AEB said.

The Long March 4B rocket debuted in 2009. It has launched 19 times since then, with the Dec. 9 launch its 20th.