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Intelsat 708 was a telecommunications satellite built by the American company Space Systems/Loral intended to be launched into a geostationary orbit and operated by Intelsat. It was destroyed during a launch failure on February 15, 1996, causing fatalities near the Xichang Satellite Launch Center at Xichang, People's Republic of China, prompting political controversy around the world.
The Intelsat 708 satellite was to be launched aboard a Long March 3B rocket. This rocket failed at launch due to an engineering defect and crashed into a town near the launch site in an enormous explosion, destroying much of it and killing an unknown number of inhabitants. The nature and extent of the damage remain a subject of dispute; the Chinese government, through its official Xinhua news agency, initially reported that six people were killed and 57 injured.
Because Intelsat 708 contained sophisticated communications and encryption technology, and because portions of the debris were never located by the satellite's developers and may have been recovered by the government of People's Republic of China, Intelsat and the Clinton administration suffered criticism in the United States for allowing a possible illegal technology transfer to China. These concerns prompted an investigation by the U.S. Congress. In 2002, the United States Department of State charged Hughes Electronics and Boeing Satellite Systems with export control violations in connection with the failed launch of Intelsat 708 and the prior failed launch of the APSTAR II satellite.
- Select Committee of the United States House of Representatives (3 January 1999). "Satellite Launches in the PRC: Loral". U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China. Retrieved 23 May 2012.
- Long March Rocket Explodes - 長征火箭爆炸 长征火箭爆炸 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBJ9ue6GKek
- Select Committee of the United States House of Representatives (1999-01-03). "Satellite Launches in the PRC: Loral". U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China. Retrieved 2007-06-30. (Congressional report discussing Intelsat 708 launch failure and possible technology transfer)
- "2002 State Dept. Charge Letter to Hughes". Softwar. 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-30. (Documents on Intelsat 708 and export controls, including State Department letter charging two companies with export law violations)
- Anatoly Zak (February 2013). "Disaster at Xichang". Air & Space Magazine. Retrieved 2013-04-22. (Article on the crash of a rocket carrying a commercial payload on February 15, 1996)
- "Cox report _ a complete fabrication". China Daily. 1999-07-16. Archived from the original on 2007-03-28. Retrieved 2007-06-30. (Chinese government report disputing conclusions of U.S. Congressional report)
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OOtSwQkybVw Video of launch, impact and view of destruction of town by resulting explosion.
- Long March Rocket Explodes - 長征火箭爆炸 长征火箭爆炸, Raw footage of the disaster