Thursday, July 18, 2024

A space rocket accidentally launched in China

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The accidental launch of a space rocket during a test on Sunday in Henan, central China, caused a large explosion in a mountainous area near the city of Gongji, which has a population of about 800,000. The test was run by a private Chinese space company that has its own launch base in the area; local authorities have not yet reported any deaths or injuries from the incident. It is not the first time explosions have occurred in China near urban areas after space launches.

Space Pioneer (Beijing Tianping Technology) on Sunday conducted a test of the first-stage engines of the Tianlong-3 rocket, a new rocket designed to be reusable like the systems used by U.S. space company SpaceX for years. As always happens in such cases, the test involved firing up the rocket’s engines and measuring their performance, while keeping the launch system anchored to the ground. However, due to a structural failure, the stabilization systems failed and the Tianlong-3 left the ground and began an uncontrolled ascent of several hundred meters.

After running out of fuel, the rocket shut down its engines and crashed into the ground, without Space Pioneer being able to control it. Tianlong-3 He fell In a mountainous area not far from the launch base, it exploded and caused a fire in a wooded area. It is unclear whether the missile is equipped with an in-flight destruction system for safety reasons. Gongyi Emergency Management Office has I reported The fire was extinguished after a few hours, and no deaths or injuries were reported.

Space Pioneer has been working for several years to build a reusable launch system that would make transporting satellites and other materials into orbit less expensive, because part of the rockets could be reused and would not need to be destroyed with each launch. Happening today. The company is one of several companies that began research and development activities about ten years ago, when private investments in space companies became possible in China. However, the Chinese government maintains strong control over the space sector and, as in other private sectors, is among the main funders of commercial initiatives.

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Space companies typically have their own launch bases along coastal areas, to minimize the risks associated with explosions and failed launches. However, it is not uncommon in China for some bases to be located in populated areas, as is the case in Gongye. On June 22, a video went viral that appeared to show the uncontrolled return to a populated area of ​​a Chinese rocket used to carry a satellite into orbit in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

Karen Hines
Karen Hines
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