Long March 3B

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Long March 3B
The Launch of Long March 3B Rocket.jpg
The launch of a Long March 3B carrier rocket at Xichang Satellite Launch Center.
Function Carrier rocket
Manufacturer CALT
Country of origin China
Height 3B: 54.838 metres (179.91 ft)[1]
3B/E: 56.326 metres (184.80 ft)[2]
Diameter 3.35 metres (11.0 ft)[1]
Mass 3B: 425,800 kilograms (938,700 lb)[1]
3B/E: 458,970 kilograms (1,011,860 lb)[2]
Stages 3
Payload to
12,000 kilograms (26,000 lb)[3][4]
Payload to
5,700 kilograms (12,600 lb)[3][4]
Payload to
3B: 5,100 kilograms (11,200 lb)[3][4]
3B/E: 5,500 kilograms (12,100 lb)[2][3]
Payload to
2,000 kilograms (4,400 lb)[4]
Payload to
3,300 kilograms (7,300 lb)[3][4]
Associated rockets
Family Long March
Derivatives Long March 3C
Launch history
Status Active
Launch sites LA-2 & LA-3, XSLC
Total launches 3B: 12
3B/E: 17
Total: 29
Successes 3B: 10
3B/E: 17
Total: 27
Failures 3B: 1
Partial failures 3B: 1
First flight 3B: 14 February 1996
3B/E: 13 May 2007
Boosters (3B)
No boosters 4
Length 15.33 m (50.3 ft)
Diameter 2.25 m (7 ft 5 in)
Propellant mass 37,700 kg (83,100 lb)
Engines 1 YF-25
Thrust 740.4 kN (166,400 lbf)
Specific impulse 2,556.2 m/s (260.66 s)
Burn time 127 s
Fuel N2O4/UDMH
Boosters (3B/E)
No boosters 4
Length 16.1 m (53 ft)
Diameter 2.25 m (7 ft 5 in)
Propellant mass 41,100 kg (90,600 lb)
Engines 1 YF-25
Thrust 740.4 kN (166,400 lbf)
Specific impulse 2,556.2 m/s (260.66 s)
Burn time 140 s
Fuel N2O4/UDMH
First Stage (3B)
Length 23.27 m (76.3 ft)
Diameter 3.35 m (11.0 ft)
Propellant mass 171,800 kg (378,800 lb)
Engines 4 YF-21C
Thrust 2,961.6 kN (665,800 lbf)
Specific impulse 2,556.5 m/s (260.69 s)
Burn time 145 s
Fuel N2O4/UDMH
First Stage (3B/E)
Length 24.76 m (81.2 ft)
Diameter 3.35 m (11.0 ft)
Propellant mass 186,200 kg (410,500 lb)
Engines 4 YF-21C
Thrust 2,961.6 kN (665,800 lbf)
Specific impulse 2,556.5 m/s (260.69 s)
Burn time 158 s
Fuel N2O4/UDMH
Second Stage
Length 12.92 m (42.4 ft)
Diameter 3.35 m (11.0 ft)
Propellant mass 49,400 kg (108,900 lb)
Engines 1 YF-24E (YF-22E (Main)
4 x YF-23C (Vernier))
Thrust 742 kN (167,000 lbf) (Main)
47.1 kN (10,600 lbf) (Vernier)
Specific impulse 2,922.57 m/s (298.019 s) (Main)
2,910.5 m/s (296.79 s) (Vernier)
Burn time 185 s
Fuel N2O4/UDMH
Third Stage
Length 12.38 m (40.6 ft)
Diameter 3.0 m (9.8 ft)
Propellant mass 18,200 kg (40,100 lb)
Engines 1 YF-75
Thrust 167.17 kN (37,580 lbf)
Specific impulse 4,295 m/s (438.0 s)
Burn time 478 s
Fuel LH2/LOX

The Long March 3B (Chinese: 长征三号乙火箭, Chang Zheng 3B), also known as the CZ-3B and LM-3B, is a Chinese orbital carrier rocket. Introduced in 1996, it is launched from Launch Area 2 at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan. A three-stage rocket with four strap-on liquid rocket boosters, it is currently the most powerful member of the Long March rocket family and the heaviest of the Long March 3 rocket family, and is mainly used to place communications satellites into geosynchronous orbits.

An enhanced version, the Long March 3B/E, was introduced in 2007 to increase the rocket's GTO cargo capacity and lift heavier GEO communications satellites. The Long March 3B also served as the basis for the medium-capacity Long March 3C, which was first launched in 2008. As of September 2015, the Long March 3B and 3B/E have conducted 27 successful launches, with two others ending in partial or complete failure.


Diagram of the Long March 3B, showing its outboard liquid rocket boosters.

The development of the Long March 3B began in 1986 to meet the needs of the international GEO communications satellite market. During its maiden flight on 14 February 1996 carrying the Intelsat 708 satellite, the rocket suffered a guidance failure two seconds into the flight and destroyed a nearby town, killing at least six people,[5] but outside estimates suggest that anywhere between 200 to 500 people might have been killed.[6] However, the author of [6] later ruled out large casualties, because evidence suggest that the crash site is evacuated before launching.[7]

The Long March 3B and 3B/E rockets conducted ten successful launches between 1997 and 2008.[2]

In 1997, the Agila 2 satellite was forced to use onboard propellant to reach its correct orbit because of poor injection accuracy on the part of its Long March 3B launch vehicle.[8] In 2009, a Long March 3B partially failed during launch due to a third stage anomaly, which resulted in the Palapa-D satellite reaching a lower orbit than planned.[9] Nonetheless, the satellite was able to maneuver itself into the planned orbit. The Long March 3B and its variants remain in active use as of January 2014, having conducted a total of 23 successful launches.

In December 2013, a Long March 3B/E successfully lifted Chang'e 3, China's first Lunar lander and rover into the projected lunar-transfer orbit.

Design and variants[edit]

The Long March 3B is based on the Long March 3A as its core stage, with four liquid boosters strapped on the first stage. It has an LEO cargo capacity of 12,000 kilograms (26,000 lb) and a GTO capacity is 5,100 kilograms (11,200 lb).

Long March 3B/E[edit]

The Long March 3B/E is an enhanced variant of the Long March 3B, featuring an enlarged first stage and boosters, increasing its GTO payload capacity to 5,500 kilograms (12,100 lb).[10] Its maiden flight took place on 13 May 2007, when it successfully launched Nigeria's NigComSat-1, the first African geosynchronous communications satellite. In 2013, it successfully launched China's first lunar lander Chang'e 3 and lunar rover Yutu.

Long March 3C[edit]

Main article: Long March 3C

A modified version of the Long March 3B, the Long March 3C, was developed in the mid-1990s to bridge the gap in payload capacity between the Long March 3B and 3A. It is almost identical to the Long March 3B, but has two boosters instead of four, giving it a reduced GTO payload capacity of 3,800 kilograms (8,400 lb). Its maiden launch took place on 25 April 2008.

List of Launches[edit]

Flight number Date (UTC) Launch site Version Payload Orbit Result
1 February 14, 1996
LA-2, XSLC 3B Intelsat 708 GTO Failure
2 August 19, 1997
LA-2, XSLC 3B Agila-2 GTO Success
3 October 16, 1997
LA-2, XSLC 3B APStar 2R GTO Success
4 May 30, 1998
LA-2, XSLC 3B Chinastar 1 GTO Success
5 July 18, 1998
LA-2, XSLC 3B SinoSat 1 GTO Success
6 April 12, 2005
LA-2, XSLC 3B APStar 6 GTO Success
7 October 28, 2006
LA-2, XSLC 3B SinoSat 2 GTO Success
8 May 13, 2007
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E NigComSat-1 GTO Success
9 July 5, 2007
LA-2, XSLC 3B ChinaSat 6B GTO Success
10 June 9, 2008
LA-2, XSLC 3B ChinaSat 9 GTO Success
11 October 29, 2008
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E Venesat-1 GTO Success
12 August 31, 2009
LA-2, XSLC 3B Palapa-D GTO Partial Failure
13 September 4, 2010
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E SinoSat 6 GTO Success
14 June 20, 2011
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E ChinaSat 10 GTO Success
15 August 11, 2011
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E Paksat-1R GTO Success
16 September 18, 2011
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E ChinaSat 1A GTO Success
17 October 7, 2011
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E Eutelsat W3C GTO Success
18 December 19, 2011
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E NigComSat-1R GTO Success
19 March 31, 2012
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E APStar 7 GTO Success
20 April 29, 2012
LA-2, XSLC 3B Compass-M3
MTO Success
21 May 26, 2012
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E ChinaSat 2A GTO Success
22 September 18, 2012
LA-2, XSLC 3B Compass-M5
MTO Success
23 November 27, 2012
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E ChinaSat 12 GTO Success
24 May 1, 2013
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E ChinaSat 11 GTO Success
25 December 1, 2013
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E Chang'e 3 LTO Success
26 December 20, 2013
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E Túpac Katari 1 GTO Success
27 July 25, 2015
MEO Success
28 September 12, 2015
LA-2, XSLC 3B/E TJSSW-1 GTO Success
29 September 29, 2015
LA-3, XSLC 3B/E BDS I2-S GTO Success

Launch failures[edit]

Intelsat 708 launch failure[edit]

On February 14, 1996, the launch of the first Long March 3B with Intelsat 708 failed just after liftoff when the launch vehicle veered off course and exploded when it hit the ground at T+23 seconds. At least 6 people on the ground were killed by the explosion. The cause of the accident was traced to short-circuiting of the vehicle's guidance platform at liftoff.

Palapa-D launch failure[edit]

On August 31, 2009, during the launch of Palapa-D, the third stage engine under-performed and placed the satellite into a lower than planned orbit. The satellite was able to make up the performance shortfall using its own engine and reach geosynchronous orbit, but with its lifetime shortened to 10.5 years. Investigation found that the engine’s gas generator suffered a burn-through due to ice blockage in the engine’s liquid-hydrogen injectors.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Mark Wade. "CZ-3B". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 26 April 2008. 
  2. ^ a b c d "LM-3B". China Great Wall Industry Corporation. Retrieved 23 May 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "LM-3A Series Launch Vehicle User's Manual - Issue 2011" (PDF). China Great Wall Industries Corporation. Retrieved 2015-08-09. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Gunter Krebs. "CZ-3B (Chang Zheng-3B)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 26 April 2008. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ a b Lan, Chen. "Mist around the CZ-3B disaster". The Space Review. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Lan, Chen. "Mist around the CZ-3B disaster (part 2)". The Space Review. Retrieved 29 October 2014. 
  8. ^ International reference guide to space launch systems. Fourth edition. p. 243. ISBN 1-56347-591-X.
  9. ^ ""帕拉帕-D"通信卫星未能进入预定轨道". Xinhua. 31 August 2009. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  10. ^ "LM-3B". China Great Wall Industry Corporation. Retrieved 31 August 2009. 
  11. ^ de Selding, Peter B. (19 November 2009). "Burn-through Blamed in China Long March Mishap". SpaceNews. Retrieved 10 August 2015. 

External links[edit]