Space Pioneer accidentally launches Tianlong-3 rocket

The Chinese space startup Space Pioneer Has made an accidental launch of the Tianlong-3 rocket while carrying out a test of its first stage, near the city of Gongyi. The propellant was undergoing a test of static ignitionin which the rocket remains attached to the launch tower while its engines are ignited, when it was released and began to ascend. According to the company in a statement, the rocket It was not sufficiently secured to the platform and its takeoff was due to ‘a structural failure’.

Several videos of the launch show the first stage of the rocket rising several hundred meters. before crashing into a mountain about a mile from the launch site and caused a huge explosion. Space Pioneer has attempted to downplay the accident, stressing that it had implemented safety measures before the test and that There were no victims“The test site is far from the urban area of ​​Gongyi,” the company said.

However, this is not entirely true. Located in Henan Province in the east of Chinaalong the Yellow River, Gongyi has a population of around 800,000 people. The test platform is just a few 5 km from the city center and less than a kilometer from a smaller town.

These types of accidents are rare in the aerospace industry, but there are precedents. Typically, in a static ignition test, the rocket does not take off, thanks on the one hand to the mass of the vehicle itself and on the other hand to the clamps on the launch tower that keep it on the ground. 1952a rocket Viking American broke free from its moorings at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. It crashed 6 km from the launch site without causing casualties.

First stage of the Tianlong-3 rocket.Space Pioneer.

Space Pioneer is a company founded in 2019 that last year achieved remarkable success by becoming The first Chinese company to reach orbit with a liquid-fueled rocket. He got it with the rocket Tianlong-2but the engines for this one had been provided by a Chinese state-operated company, the Academy of Aerospace Liquid Propulsion Technologyinstead of Space Pioneer.

For Tianlong-3, a larger rocket than its predecessor, the company uses its own engines TH-12A total of nine TH-12s will propel the Space Pioneer rocket, with a thrust of 17 tons, into low Earth orbit. The rocket’s design and reusability of its first stage are modeled after the Space Pioneer rocket. Falcon 9 developed by SpaceX.

Space Pioneer was preparing the vehicle for its first launch late this summer or fallThe company’s statement did not set a new timeline for a launch attempt, but said it would complete the analysis of failures ‘as soon as possible’.