China Great Wall Industry (CGWIC) successfully launched the second Long March LM3B, its most powerful satellite booster, from Xichang on 19 August, carrying the Space Systems/Loral-built Agila 2 communications satellite into geostationary-transfer orbit (GTO) for Mabuhay Philippine Satellite.

The launch of the first LM3B failed on 14 February, 1996, plunging China's commercial-launcher business into crisis (Flight International, 28 February-5 March, 1996, P22). CGWIC lost several contracts as a result of the failure.

With the success of the latest LM3B, which can place 5,000kg into GTO, and three successful national launches using other Long March booster variants since October 1996, CGWIC hopes to be able to restore commercial confidence.

The first satellite launch by a former McDonnell Douglas Delta booster since the company's integration with Boeing took place from Vandenberg AFB, California on 21 August. The five latest Iridium satellites were carried into low-Earth orbit.

Source: Flight International