Chinese Rocket’s First Stage Detaches During Test, Lands Off-site

Credit: Space Pioneer

Beijing Tianbing Technology Co. reported on Sunday that a structural failure during a test caused the first stage of its rocket to detach from its launch pad and land in a hilly area near Gongyi city in central . The incident, confirmed by in a statement on its official WeChat account, did not result in any casualties following an initial investigation.

According to the Gongyi emergency management bureau, parts of the rocket stage scattered within a designated “safe area” but triggered a local fire, which has since been extinguished with no reported injuries.

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The Tianlong-3, a partly reusable two-stage rocket under development by Space Pioneer, is part of a burgeoning group of private-sector rocket manufacturers in China. This incident, where a rocket under development veered off its test site, is rare in the industry.

Space Pioneer stated that the first stage ignited normally during a hot test but later detached from the test bench due to structural failure, landing approximately 1.5 km away in hilly terrain. The company highlighted that the Tianlong-3’s performance is comparable to ‘s , also a two-stage rocket.

Since 2014, when private investment in China’s space industry was permitted, numerous commercial space companies have entered the sector. These companies, including Space Pioneer, have focused on production and developing reusable rockets to reduce mission costs.

While many test sites are located along China’s coastal areas for safety reasons, Space Pioneer’s test center in Gongyi, situated in Henan province’s interior, underscores the geographic diversity of China’s growing private space industry.

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