20240701 134527 00001

Tianlong-3: Chinese Rocket Crashes After Accidental Launch During Ground Test

A Chinese private company’s space rocket, the Tianlong-3 experienced a failure during a ground test and launched before crashing into a hilly area near the city of Gongyi. The incident occurred on June 30, 2024 and was confirmed by Space Pioneer in an official statement on their WeChat account.

Tianlong-3: Chinese Rocket Crashes After Accidental Launch During Ground Test

Also Read: China’s Chang’e 6 Lunar Probe Returns with Samples from the Moon’s Far Side

Space Pioneer officially known as Beijing Tianbing Technology. The company has been at the forefront of developing liquid-propellant rockets and has achieved many things including the successful launch of the Tianlong-2 rocket in April 2023.

This achievement marked Space Pioneer as the first Chinese commercial entity to send a liquid carrier rocket into orbit.

The incident was triggered by a structural failure at the connection point between the rocket body and the test platform. This failure led to the rocket lifting off from its static position during a routine test.

Upon detachment, the rocket’s nine engines fired, propelling it into the air. Shortly thereafter, the rocket’s onboard computer shut down automatically and the Tianlong-3 fell approximately 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) southwest of the test platform into a hilly area. The rocket disintegrated upon impact and an explosion ensued.

Space Pioneer addressed that no casualties were reported as a result of the accident. In coordination with local authorities, the company had implemented safety protocols and evacuated residents from the vicinity before the test.

This approach made sure that the mishap did not result in any harm to the public, despite the rocket crashing in an area not far from populated regions of Gongyi.

China’s space ambitions are vast and include plans for constructing a satellite internet network and conducting lunar exploration. The Tianlong-3 rocket is integral to these efforts being comparable in performance to SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

The Tianlong-3 is designed to be a powerful, reusable rocket capable of delivering 17 tonnes of payload to low-Earth orbit.

The Tianlong-3 rocket has nine engines and a combined thrust of 820 tonnes, it surpasses other Chinese reusable rockets in power.

Space Pioneer’s goal of launching the Tianlong-3 over 30 times annually highlights the ambition to make commercial space travel more frequent and cost-effective.

The Tianlong-3’s design and performance, which are comparable to SpaceX’s Falcon 9, indicate China’s commitment to becoming a major player in the global space industry.

The Tianlong-3 is a two-stage rocket under development is designed for partial reusability. It is expected to be capable of launching over 30 times annually and is comparable to SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

Also Read: South African Scientists Inject Radioactive in Rhino Horns to Fight Poaching

The Tianlong-3 rocket’s first stage was undergoing a static fire test, a procedure where the rocket is secured to a test stand while its engines are fired.

During this test, a structural failure occurred at the connection between the rocket and the test platform.

Due to the structural failure, the first stage detached from the test bench and launched into the air. Video footage shows the rocket soaring vertically before losing power, then veering horizontally and eventually crashing into the hills about 1.5 kilometers from the test site.

The rocket landed in a forested area, causing an explosion and fire. The emergency management bureau of Gongyi reported that the fire was contained and no casualties were recorded.

Space Pioneer said that people in the vicinity were evacuated prior to the test, ensuring no injuries occurred.

The Tianlong-3 rocket’s first stage was intended to undergo a static fire test, a routine process for validating the rocket’s engine performance while still attached to the ground.

The failure at the rocket’s attachment point to the test bench led to an unplanned launch. The first stage ignited as expected but detached from the test platform due to the structural failure.

The rocket ascended, lost thrust and then crashed in nearby hills. Emergency services responded to the incident containing the fire.

The Tianlong-3 is a two-stage rocket. In a normal launch, the first stage propels the rocket upward until its fuel is depleted, at which point it detaches and the second stage ignites to continue the mission.

The failure at the connection point highlights issues in the structural integrity or design of the test apparatus, which may need reassessment and strengthening to prevent similar incidents in the future.

The company acknowledged the structural failure and the resulting unintended launch. They addressed that the rocket’s performance metrics during the test up until the point of failure were within expected parameters.

Space Pioneer affirmed that evacuation protocols were followed and no individuals were harmed due to the incident.

Also Read: Chimpanzees Use Medicinal Plants to Treat Illness and Injuries

Top Sources Related to Tianlong-3: Chinese Rocket Crashes After Accidental Launch During Ground Test (For R&D)

South China Morning Post:

Space News:

The Guardian:


CNN News:

New York Times:


More From Author