China accidentally fired a rocket!


Lerato Khumalo

“The first stage rocket separated from the launch pad due to a structural failure in the connection between the rocket body and the test platform,” said a statement on social media by Space Pioneer, a private aviation company that is a rival to US SpaceX. No casualties were reported, according to state media.

Space Pioneer, also known as Beijing Tianbing Technology Co., said the test was carried out at facilities in Gongyi, north China’s Henan Province, and that the first-stage rocket fired normally and reached 820 tons of engine thrust.

However, due to a “structural failure,” the rocket broke free of its restraints and lifted off. The onboard computer then shut down the engines, causing the rocket to crash into a mountainous area about a mile southwest, where it “disintegrated on impact,” according to Space Pioneer.

In videos shared on Chinese social media platform Weibo, the Tianlong-3 (Sky Dragon-3), a two-stage kerosene-liquid rocket similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 medium-altitude launch vehicle, is seen making an unplanned liftoff, reaching its peak, slowing down and falling almost parallel to the Earth.

Static fire tests are performed to check the performance of a fully assembled rocket and identify any problems before a final flight test is conducted.