Intelsat 708
Intelsat 708 was a telecommunications satellite built by the American company Space Systems/Loral
Space Systems/Loral
Space Systems/Loral , of Palo Alto, California, is the wholly owned manufacturing subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications. It was acquired in 1990 for $715 million by Loral Corp. from Ford Motor Company as the Space Systems Division of Ford Aerospace...

 intended to be launched into a geostationary orbit
Geostationary orbit
A geostationary orbit is a geosynchronous orbit directly above the Earth's equator , with a period equal to the Earth's rotational period and an orbital eccentricity of approximately zero. An object in a geostationary orbit appears motionless, at a fixed position in the sky, to ground observers...

 and operated by Intelsat
Intelsat, Ltd. is a communications satellite services provider.Originally formed as International Telecommunications Satellite Organization , it was—from 1964 to 2001—an intergovernmental consortium owning and managing a constellation of communications satellites providing international broadcast...

. It was destroyed during a launch failure on February 15, 1996, causing fatalities near the Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Xichang Satellite Launch Center
The Xichang Satellite Launch Center also known as Base 27 , is a People’s Republic of China space vehicle launch facility approximately 64 km northwest of Xichang City, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province....

 at Xichang
Xichang is a city in and the seat of the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, in the south of Sichuan province, People's Republic of China. In 2004 it had a population of 126,700.-Geography:...

, People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, and prompting political controversy around the world.

The Intelsat 708 satellite was to be launched aboard a Long March 3B
Long March 3B
The Long March 3B , also known as the Chang Zheng 3B, 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 Centre...

 rocket. This rocket failed at launch due to an engineering defect and crashed into a village near the launch site, which reportedly killed an unknown number of Chinese civilians and caused other damage. 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
In cryptography, encryption is the process of transforming information using an algorithm to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a key. The result of the process is encrypted information...

 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 technology transfer
Technology transfer
Technology Transfer, also called Transfer of Technology and Technology Commercialisation, is the process of skill transferring, knowledge, technologies, methods of manufacturing, samples of manufacturing and facilities among governments or universities and other institutions to ensure that...

 to China. (See also ITAR.) These concerns prompted an investigation by the U.S. Congress. In 2002, the United States Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

 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.

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