Spacelift Washington: Long March Fails in Military Weapons Test

Spacelift Washington
Spacelift Washington Archive

WASHINGTON, JAN. 4 - A Long March 1 space booster failed in mid-flight January 3rd, according to sources in the U.S. space industry. The test was a reentry vehicle simulation of a new warhead being developed for the Dong Feng DF-31 ICBM.

The test flight was first reported by the Washington Times newspaper. The paper was not able to confirm the type of launcher used in the test. Sources tell Spacelift Washington the test was to simulate a separation of the warhead followed by atmospheric reentry under controlled flight. A older variant of a previously used space launch vehicle was flown in the test, we were told.

However, the source said the first stage of the LM booster malfunctioned and had to be destroyed in flight. "This won't have much impact on their [commercial] launcher programs," the source said.

The last launch of the LM 1 family occurred in 1995. Earlier versions of the booster were used for small satellite LEO missions, but has been supplanted in recent years by the larger LM 2C. Both rockets are 2-stage liquid fueled launch vehicles using storable propellants. The 2C has been the launcher for the FSW series of commercial space capsules, and other LEO missions. The LM 1 has flown twice and failed once; its only successful flight was a suborbital test. The launcher is not commercially available and is not listed in the China Great Wall Industry Corp. launch services catalog. According to our source, an expert in foreign launch vehicles and missiles, there is no user's guide in print for the LM 1.


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