Chinese Rocket Failure Plus Aftermath

Summary of event: On January 26, 1995, a Long March 2E rocket veered off course two seconds after take-off from Xichang space center and exploded, killing at least six on the ground. On February 14, 1996, a similar failure during the launch of Intelsat 708. The rocket veered severely off course right after clearing the launch tower and landed in a rural village. Following the disaster, foreign media were sequestered in a bunker for five hours while, some have alleged, the Chinese military attempted to 'clean up' the damage. Officials later blamed the failure on an "unexpected gust of wind" Xinhua News Agency initially reported 6 deaths and 57 injuries. In the aftermath of the explosion, U.S. satellite makers shared information which allowed the Chinese to determine that the problem was in the welds. However, this sharing of information was later deemed illegal by the United States, and U.S. satellite maker Loral Space and Communications was fined $14 million by the U.S. government in 2002, while admitting no wrong-doing.