Long March rocket

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A Long March rocket (simplified Chinese: 长征系列运载火箭; traditional Chinese: 長征系列運載火箭; pinyin: Chángzhēng xìliè yùnzài huǒjiàn) is any rocket in a family of expendable launch systems operated by the People's Republic of China. Development and design falls under the auspices of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology. In English, the rockets are abbreviated as LM- for export and CZ- within China.[citation needed] The rockets are named after the Long March of Chinese communist history.

Contents

History

China launched its first satellite, known as Dong Fang Hong 1 ("the East is Red"), to Earth orbit on its own Long March space rocket on April 24, 1970, becoming the fifth nation to achieve independent launch capability. Early launches had a spotty record, focusing on launching of Chinese satellites. Since 1990, Long March rocket entered the international market. However, several setbacks occurred during early 1990s. On January 26, 1995, a Long March 2E rocket veered off course two seconds after take-off from Xichang space center and exploded, killing at least six on the ground. On February 14, 1996, a similar failure during the launch of Intelsat 708 a top the Long March 3B rocket resulted in an estimated 500 casualties.[citation needed] The rocket veered severely off course right after clearing the launch tower and landed in a rural village. Following the disaster, foreign media were sequestered in a bunker for five hours while, some have alleged, the Chinese military attempted to 'clean up' the damage. Officials later blamed the failure on an "unexpected gust of wind"[1] Xinhua News Agency eventually reported 57 deaths.[citation needed] In the aftermath of the explosion, U.S. satellite makers shared information which allowed the Chinese to determine that the problem was in the welds.[2] However, this sharing of information was later deemed illegal by the United States, and U.S. satellite maker Loral Space and Communications was fined $14 million by the U.S. government in 2002, while admitting no wrong-doing.[3]

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