Main Engine Cut Off

First Long March 7A Fails, with Some Evidence Pointing to Second Stage Failure

Andrew Jones, far and away my favorite source (and podcast guest!) for Chinese space news, has a great rundown on SpaceNews on Long March 7A and the impacts its failure could have:

The RP-1/liquid oxygen side boosters and core stage share commonalities with the Long March 5, including YF-100 engines. An issue with these engines could potentially impact planned Long March 5 missions, including China’s first independent interplanetary mission—to Mars—in July. It could also have knock-on effects for China’s space station plans.

If the issue was with the second stage YF-115 engines, the impact of the failure could be limited to the Long March 6 and 7 series rockets. A new variant of the Long March 6 developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology is expected later in 2020.

Later on Twitter, he posted some amateur videos from the launch that an explosion just after MECO, separation, and second stage ignition. That evidence coupled with the fact that nothing was registered in orbit after launch seem to indicate that the failure was in the second stage, which—if true—would be great news for China’s Mars, Space Station, and lunar sample return plans.