Chinese State Inquiry Determines Cause of Palapa-D Failure

November 23, 2009

A Chinese government inquiry concluded that a burn-through of its Long March rocket engine’s upper-stage gas generator was the primary cause of its failure to place Indonesia's Palapa-D into proper orbit, Chinese government officials announced Nov. 19.
The inquiry determined that foreign matter or humidity-caused icing in the engine’s liquid-hydrogen injectors caused the burnout.

Chinese officials said that the Long March's liquid hydrogen system will be fitted with a filter to prevent the passage of ice or other foreign objects on future missions.
Launched Aug. 31, the satellite was initially reported by officials to have failed to enter orbit after an anomaly occurred in the third stage of its Long March 3B launch vehicle. Shortly after, Thales Alenia Space announced it captured the satellite and placed it into a useless orbit.

Palapa D is owned by Indonesian satellite communications company Indosat, which would have used the satellite to provide links and broadcasting services to southeastern Asian nations.