Human WorldSpaceflight

Chinese rocket accidentally blasts off, then crashes

A Chinese rocket launched during testing on Sunday, in central China’s Henan Province.

Chinese rocket surprise … BOOM!

The commercial rocket company Space Pioneer said it was a “structural failure” that caused the accidental launch and dramatic, explosive crash of a Chinese rocket on Sunday, June 30, 2024, near a populated area.

The Tianlong-3 rocket was undergoing a test of its propulsion system, called a “static fire test.” It suddenly lifted off from its testing platform and could be seen climbing over a mountainous area above the company’s test facility in Gongyi city in central China’s Henan Province. Then its engines faltered, and the rocket began to fall. The liftoff took place at 3:43 p.m. local time on Sunday. reported:

Amateur footage captured by Gongyi citizens and posted on Chinese social media shows the nine-engine test stage igniting and then, exceptionally, taking off. Hold-down clamps and other structures are typically used to securely keep stages in place.

The stage is seen climbing into the sky before halting, apparently with its engines shutting off, and returning to Earth. The stage impacted the ground around 50 seconds after it took off, apparently with much of its kerosene-liquid oxygen propellant remaining, causing a large explosion. The Tianlong-3 first stage would likely fire for a number of minutes on an orbital flight.

No one was reported injured in the accidental launch.

A test meant to build up to orbital launch

According to Space News:

Space Pioneer was conducting its test as a buildup to an orbital launch of the Tianlong-3, which is benchmarked against the SpaceX Falcon 9, in the coming months. The company announced earlier this month that it has secured $207 million in new funding.

Space Pioneer issued its own statement later, stating there was a structural failure at the connection between the rocket body and the test bench. The rocket’s onboard computer automatically shut down the engines and the rocket fell 1.5 kilometers southwest. It reiterated earlier reports that no casualties were found. The company said the test produced 820 tons of thrust.

Chinese rocket: Long, white rocket body, lying prone.
An assembled Tianlong-3 first stage. Image via Space Pioneer/

Bottom line: A Chinese rocket was undergoing a static fire test on Sunday, June 30, 2024, when it suddenly broke free of its hold-down clamps and launched.

July 1, 2024
Human World

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