Chinese Rocket Launch Rains Fiery Debris on Local Village

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Toxic Smoke, Burning Chunks of Metal, and Other Debris Fell on a Village Downrange of the Long March 3B Chinese Rocket Launch This Weekend

Last week we reported about the break-neck tempo of Chinese rocket launches. In fact, in the past three months, they’ve launched nine rockets into space. By way of comparison, SpaceX took three months between its last two Falcon 9 launches. The rush to put Chinese rockets into space, however, is not without its consequences. As such, Saturday one of the Long March 3B rockets China Launched left a downrange village in flames and crumbles from toxic debris. Unfortunately, with China’s record on human rights (and the current crisis in Hong Kong), help for those affected citizens isn’t likely.

During the launch process, rockets with several stages often break apart and jettison components once each stage is complete. Under responsible circumstances, space agencies plan rocket trajectories in order to avoid populated areas. This is why the U.S. launches from the coast; so the breakup happens over the open ocean. In this case, the Chinese rocket in question launched from the Xichang Satellite Launching Center in Sichuan Provence, hundreds of miles inland. As such, the rocket launched there flew over small villages as it climbed for orbit. And in this instance, one of the booster stages rained toxic and flaming debris on a civilian population as it broke up.

Tweets of the Wreckage

The Washington Examiner spoke to a space industry source who told them, “Not even the Russians are this irresponsible.” Furthermore, that same source spoke of the fumes associated with the debris, adding, “They can burn you inside and out.” 

Saturdays launches sent more satellites into orbit for China’s Beidou satellite navigation system. Beidou is meant to compete with GPS, which the U.S. owns and controls. In fact, this competition could be pushing China’s rapid launch tempo. And as that tempo increases, incidents like Saturday’s are likely to become more common.

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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