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Chinese private company’s rocket crashes and explodes during test launch

A Chinese private company’s Tianlong-3 rocket crashed and exploded near Gongyi, China, after a structural failure during a test launch. Despite scattered debris causing a local fire, no casualties were reported.



Chinese Private Company's Rocket Crashes and Explodes During Test Launch

CHINA: The space rocket of a Chinese private company crashed and exploded into flames near a city on Sunday (30 June) during a test launch, due to an accidental launch caused by a structural failure.

Beijing Tianbing, also known as Space Pioneer, reported on its official WeChat account that the Tianlong-3 rocket’s first stage departed from the launch pad after a structural connection failure with the test stand.

The rocket landed in a hilly area near Gongyi in central China.

Video footage circulating on social media shows the rocket initially ascending vertically before losing power and veering horizontally.

It then descended back to the ground, igniting nearby forested hills upon impact.

Despite the unplanned flight, an initial investigation indicated no casualties were reported.

According to the Gongyi emergency management bureau, parts of the rocket stage scattered within a designated “safe area,” sparking a local fire which has since been extinguished without injuries.

The Tianlong-3, also known as “Sky Dragon 3,” is being developed by Space Pioneer as a partly reusable rocket, alongside other private-sector rocket manufacturers that have expanded rapidly in recent years.

During a hot test, the Tianlong-3’s first stage ignited normally but later detached from the test bench due to structural failure.

This incident highlights the complexity of multi-stage rockets, where each stage plays a critical role in the launch process.

Space Pioneer has positioned the Tianlong-3 to compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9, emphasizing comparable performance between the two-stage rockets.

In April 2023, Space Pioneer achieved a milestone by launching Tianlong-2, a kerosene-oxygen rocket, marking the first liquid-propellant rocket launched into space by a private Chinese firm.

Since 2014, when private investment in the sector was authorized by the Chinese government, commercial space companies in China have diversified efforts, with some focusing on satellite manufacturing and others, like Space Pioneer, prioritizing reusable rocket technology to reduce mission costs significantly.

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