Booster from Chinese rocket crashes to Earth near a small town
A booster from a Chinese rocket appears to have crash-landed and exploded after a satellite launch on Friday.
According to a report from GB Times, one of four rocket boosters from a Long March 3B rocket crashed near the town of Xiangdu, reportedly about 435 miles (or around 700 kilometers) from the launch site.
As The Verge‘s Loren Grush notes, China seems perfectly fine launching their rockets from inland launchpads, unlike the U.S., meaning the rockets fly over and shed parts over land, leading to incidents like that on Friday.
Video of the incident was caught and shared to social media.
This is probably why the Chinese need to recover their rockets stages soon….and for reasons other than price:
(video of booster falling in planned drop zone from Chinese social media for today’s Long March 3B launch, taken at Baise, Guangxi, China) pic.twitter.com/SLqaDeoPf7
— Cosmic Penguin (@Cosmic_Penguin) January 12, 2018
There are no reports of injuries though locals, especially those who went to check out the remains of the booster, were at risk of being exposed to the toxic propellants used to fire the booster.
These kinds of incidents aren’t incredibly rare in China, where rockets frequently fly over land, unlike in many other countries where rockets are shot out over the ocean.
According to Andrew Jones reporting for GB Times, China’s launch facilities built during the Cold War were built inland as a safeguard, but today, that safeguard has turned into something of a hazard.
“This means that today’s space launches pass over inhabited areas,” Jones wrote. “Though drop zones for Long March rocket stages are carefully calculated and launch notices and procedures put in places, events like the above are all too common, especially with China’s space activities expanding greatly in recent years.”
There have been recent efforts to curtail the risk to civilians, though, including using less toxic propellants and the new Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the island of Hainan, enabling rockets to launch over the South China Sea.