Domestically made reusable rocket model fails test, causing no casualties
Published: Jun 30, 2024 10:39 PM
Rockets and rocket engines on display in Wuhan on Wednesday Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

Rockets and rocket engines on display in Wuhan on Wednesday Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

A new domestically designed and manufactured large liquid-propellent reusable rocket model failed its test and fell into the mountain area in Gongyi, Central China’s Henan Province, on Sunday, reportedly causing no casualties as of Sunday evening as nearby resident had been evacuated before the flight. 

Videos posted online by local residents showed a rocket emitting black smoke before falling into the mountain and catching fire on Sunday afternoon. 

According to media reports, the fallen rocket was related to the rocket test conducted by Space Pioneer, a Chinese private rocket company founded in 2019. 

In March, the company revealed the maiden flight scheduled for its new large liquid-propellent reusable rocket model TL-3, also known as the Chinese “Falcon 9 equivalent” for its matching powerful design. 

The videos uploaded online show that a cylindrical object on fire traced a parabola through the sky before crashing onto the ground, immediately followed by sound of a huge explosion.

The city’s emergency management bureau said the explosion caused no casualties as of Sunday afternoon, according to Jimu News. 

A local villager told Jimu News that the launch site was just 500 meters away from her home. Local authorities had evacuated all the nearby residents as of 10 am on Sunday morning and the residents have to wait for a further notice about the time for their return. 

Space Pioneer issued a statement on Sunday afternoon, explaining the condition of the test of its new large liquid-propellent reusable rocket model TL-3 carried out on Sunday afternoon, according to 

During the test, a first-stage rocket ignited normally. However, due to structural failure at the connection point between the rocket body and the test stand, the rocket crashed in the deep mountains 1.5 kilometers southwest of the test pad, where the rocket body disintegrated upon impact. 

Specially designed for China’s low-orbit satellite internet constellation construction, the TL-3 rocket has a diameter of 3.8 meters, a total length of 71 meters and a liftoff mass of 590 tons. It is capable of sending a payload of 17 tons to the Low Earth orbit (LEO) and 14 tons to the sun-synchronous orbit, according to the company. 

The test of the rocket with nine-engine parallel configuration is the most powerful propulsion system of China’s current carrier rocket, two times the previous maximum thrust test in China’s aerospace. 

The company promised to quickly rectify the fault and organize the production and testing of new products. 

An employee from the company confirmed to media that apart from the loss of the rocket, the incident caused no casualties or property damage, the National Business Daily reported on Monday.

The employee said that on-site staff are currently searching for the black box and collecting rocket debris. The incident can only be clearly explained when all the data have been collected and analyzed.

The employee also said that the company will continue rocket test flights but may downscale the size of testing missions.

Global Times