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Satnews Daily
December 9th, 2013

Brazil + China—CBERS 3's Unplanned Return To Earth (Launch)

Photo of the CBERS-3 satellite during its build at the China Space Center. Credit. Photo is courtesy of INPE.

[SatNews] All looked well at 11:26 a.m. local time at the Taiyuan space center in China's Shanxi province when theLong March 4B rocket pushed the CBERS 3 satellite away from Earth.

The China/Brazil developed, $250 million, 2.3 ton satellite packed infrared and thermal imagers and was intended to capture black and white imagery at a top resolution of 5m (16 feet) to discover sources of water, examine urban development, assist with identifying deforestation and land use cycles in Brazil.

However, something went amiss... the Chinese Xinhua news agency as well as the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper both indicate that the CBERS 3 did not attain its orbital slot and is believed to have unceremoniously returned to Earth. An otherwise stellar record for the Long March B rocket—which had 20 previous, successful lift-offs—now appears to be undone. This event, according to reports, indicates the launch vehicle encountered an unspecified difficulty during its ascent, resulting in the satellite failing to reach its orbital slot.

Brazil's INPE (National Institute for Space Research) and China are developing the next CBERS 4 satellite in tandem, with an expected launch sometime in 2015.