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China, Brazil mourn loss of their $250m CBERS-3 satellite after fiery death

Rainforest-tracking bird crashes to Earth, oh well ... on to CBERS-4

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Brazil and China have failed in their mission to launch a climate-monitoring satellite into space.

Officials said the CBERS-3 (China–Brazil Earth Resources Satellite 3) bird is believed to have crashed shortly after its launch from northern China's Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 0326 UTC on Monday. The primary cause is believed to be a cock-up by the launcher rocket, and the fault remains under investigation.

According to Brazil's space institute INPE, the $250m satellite is believed to have been released by the rocket at a lower altitude than expected, and probably crashed back to Earth. Other systems on the satellite were functioning normally.

A joint project between Chinese and Brazilian agencies, the 4,370lb CBERS-3 satellite had been intended as a monitoring tool for the Amazon region. INPE said the aim of the CBERS project is to monitor land movements from agriculture, natural disasters and other climate phenomena in the vast Brazilian Amazon region.

Despite the failure, both groups remain optimistic about the project. INPE said that a special session will be kicked off tomorrow on the planning of the CBERS-4 satellite. CBERS-1 and -2 did make it into space.

"The CBERS's family of remote sensing satellites brought to Brazil significant scientific advances," said the INPE.

"This significance is attested by the over 35,000 users from more than 2,500 organizations registered as active CBERS users, and also by the 800,000 CBERS images, distributed at the approximate rate of 250 every day."

The failed launch comes after China launched its Jade Rabbit rover to land on the Moon later this month. And last week, private biz SpaceX used its Falcon 9 rocket to successfully put a commercial satellite in geosynchronous orbit. ®

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