Catastrophic Chinese Accidental Rocket Launch Footage Released

By Jason Collins | Published

rocket fuel

The Chinese company Space Pioneer attempted to conduct a “static fire” test with the first stage of its new Tianlong-3 rocket on Sunday, only to cause a not-so-static-fire launch, which ended in a disaster. The attempted test took place in Gongyi, a city of approximately 800,000 people in the central Chinese province of Henan. Fortunately, there have been no injuries—at least none have been reported thus far. See the video footage below:

An Unexpected Liftoff

Rocket Launch

The footage above shows the rocket’s first stage emerging from a massive cloud and taking to the skies before losing momentum due to engine shutdown, after which it crashed into hills near Gongyi, producing a massive fireball. According to Beijing Tianbing, also known as Space Pioneer, the Chinese rocket wasn’t supposed to leave the launch pad, as it was secured to the ground at the moment all nine of its engines ignited. However, due to a structural failure of the anchoring mechanism, the rocket lifted off on a rather dramatic and frightening surprise mission.

No Injuries Currently Reported

Rocket Launch

But, becoming separated from the launch pad, the Chinese rocket didn’t go on its surprise mission thanks to its onboard computer, which detected the unusual activity disassociated from the static fire protocols. This resulted in an engine shutdown, but due to the remaining momentum, the rocket (fortunately) steered into the hilly areas of Gongyi City, where it became a great ball of fire that some onlookers caught in video and shared via social media. As previously stated, the explosion didn’t injure anyone, at least according to Henan emergency management officials.

Not Necessarily An Engineering Issue

Now, some might credit the failure of the Chinese rocket to poor engineering and/or poor-quality components, but there aren’t any details as to what exactly caused the component failure at the launch pad, causing the rocket to become detached during testing. It’s important to note that Space Pioneer isn’t a Chinese sweatshop company playing space explorers but a company that has some spaceflight bone fides, such as its Tianlong-2 rocket, which reached orbit in April 2023, thus becoming the first private-owned Chinese launch vehicle to do so.

Modeled After SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket

Rocket Launch

The Chinese rocket Tianlong-3 is actually modeled after SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, making it a significant leap forward for the company, which also claims that its rocket boasts similar performance, being able to carry 590 tons, compared to Falcon 9’s 605-ton capacity. And, just like Falcon 9, Tianlong-3 is also supposed to be a workhorse rocket with a reusable first stage. According to various reports, this rocket is supposed to help launch China’s satellite internet network into orbit.

Coastal Launch Pads Are A Possible Solution

Fortunately, this particular launch hasn’t caused any injuries to the populace, which can’t be said for Chinese rockets. Just a week before, another video was shared online, showing a Chinese rocket falling apart above a populated area, spewing toxic chemicals into the skies, and prompting nearby residents to run for cover. This isn’t as rare as one might think, primarily because most of the launch sites in China are located inland, which poses a greater threat of rocket components falling into populated areas.

The country is currently investing in coastal launch pads to alleviate this issue.