The 15-story Long March 4B rocket that was supposed to put the 2.3-ton spacecraft into orbit encountered trouble during flight, and Chinese and Brazilian officials said the CBERS 3 satellite did not enter orbit, SpaceflightNow.com reported.
"There was a malfunction of the launch vehicle during flight, and consequently the satellite was not positioned in orbit," Brazil's National Institute for Space Research said in a statement. "Preliminary evaluations suggest that the CBERS 3 has returned to the planet."
"The data obtained show that the subsystems of CBERS 3 functioned normally during the [launch]," the institute said.
The institute was working with the Chinese Academy of Space Technology to understand what went wrong, ZDNet.com said.
The equipment, developed under the China-Brazil Earth Resources Satellite program, was equipped with cameras capable of generating extra-high resolution imagery, which researchers said could help preserve areas such as the Amazon rainforest by identifying possible illegal fires and devastation areas.