PARIS — China’s launch service provider on Dec. 16 said the Dec. 9 failure of its Long March 4B rocket was caused by the premature shutdown of the second of two third-stage engines because of reduced fuel flow.

In a statement, Beijing-based China Great Wall Industry Corp. said the failure investigation, headed by Wang Haoping of the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, was continuing to determine the reasons behind the reduction in fuel supplied to the engine.

The Long March 4B’s upper stage is powered by two identical engines. The first functioned as designed.

The failure destroyed the China-Brazil CBERS-3 Earth observation satellite, one in a series of medium-resolution spacecraft developed jointly with the Brazilian Space Agency, AEB.

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China Blames Long March Failure on Third-stage Malfunction

Peter B. de Selding was the Paris Bureau Chief for SpaceNews.