China Great Wall Industry, which is to launch 11 Long March LM2C boosters in 1998, carrying 22 US Motorola Iridium communications satellites, conducted a unique demonstration flight from Taiyuan on 1 September.

An LM2C, equipped with the Iridium Smart Dispenser satellite-deployment upper stage, placed into low-Earth orbit two mass/frequency simulators from Motorola.

The Chinese launch was one of several which took place between 29 August and 4 September. An Ariane 44LP booster, launched from the Guiana Space Centre, Kourou, French Guiana, on 2 September, placed the Matra Marconi Space-built Hot Bird 3 communications satellite and Aerospatiale's Meteosat 7 weather satellite into orbit.

On 3 September, the Ariane 502 booster was moved to its final-assembly building at Kourou for mating with its payloads. The critical test of the booster, which exploded on its maiden flight in June 1996, is due in late September.

An ILS International Launch Services Atlas 2AS booster was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 4 September, carrying the GE3 communications satellite.

In the second launch in August of an Orbital Sciences (OSC) Pegasus booster, the Fast On-orbit Recording of Transient Events (FORTE) satellite was placed into orbit on 29 August.

The air launch took place over the Pacific Ocean from OSC's modified Lockheed L-1011.

Source: Flight International