Chinese Rocket Crashes Following Reportedly Accidental Launch During Testing, Chinese State-Run Media Says

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
July 1, 2024China News
Chinese Rocket Crashes Following Reportedly Accidental Launch During Testing, Chinese State-Run Media Says
A Chinese space rocket accidentally launches during a test and crashes in a hilly area near the city of Gongyi in central China on June 30, 2024, in a still from video. (Video obtained by Reuters/Screenshot via NTD)

A Chinese rocket crashed in central China on June 30 following a reportedly accidental launch, according to Aerospace company Space Pioneer, which was responsible for the launch.

According to Chinese state-run media, no casualties were reported in the incident, which involved a Tianlong-3 rocket. These reports, however, could not be independently verified.

The crash occurred during testing of the rocket, with the malfunction allegedly due to structural failure. The first stage of the rocket reportedly detached from its launch pad during the test.

“Due to structural failure of the connection between the rocket body and the testing platform, the first stage of the rocket was separated from the launch pad,” said a statement from Space Pioneer, also known as Beijing Tianbing Technology Co.

The company said that the rocket landed in a sparsely populated mountainous area near the city of Gongyi in central China.

“After liftoff, the onboard computer automatically shut down, and the rocket fell into the mountains 1.5 kilometers southwest of the testing platform. The rocket body crashed into the mountain and disintegrated,” the company said.

Space Pioneer is one of China’s leading space technology companies, specializing in liquid-propellant rockets.

The company conducted its first successful commercial launch of a Tianlong-2 rocket in April last year. Chinese state media reported at the time that the launch marked the first time a Chinese liquid carrier rocket had successfully entered orbit.

The most recent launch of the Tianlong-3, which far exceeded last year’s launch in size, reportedly served to aid China’s construction of its satellite-based internet network.

However, this information is based on information disseminated by China’s Communist Party, which controls state media, and the actual purpose of the rocket launch could also have more sinister motives, such as gathering intelligence through the use of spy satellites.

Space Pioneer has compared the rocket’s performance to that of Space X’s Falcon 9. The company said that upon completion of the rocket’s first successful flight, it will be capable of conducting launches more than 30 times per year due to the rocket’s capacity for reuse.

Questionable Motives

The crash follows the return on June 25 of China’s Chang’e-6 lunar module, which brought back samples from the far surface of the moon in what China referred to as a key milestone in its quest for space dominance.

As China moves towards asserting greater dominance in space, other countries, including the United States, have also ramped up their own lunar exploration programs.

While China has repeatedly asserted that its aims in space exploration are of a peaceful nature, the goals it outlined in a 2022 report indicated quite the opposite.

“China has always advocated the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes any attempt to turn outer space into a weapon or battlefield or launch an arms race in outer space,” the report stated.

“To explore the vast cosmos, develop the space industry, and build China into a space power is our eternal dream,” Chinese regime leader Xi Jinping is quoted by the report as saying.

Experts, however, have cautioned against the motives of the CCP, and a likely extension of its “Three Warfares” strategy into space, attempting to dominate the extra-orbital landscape through legal, media-based, and psychological means.

In addition, the regime’s foray into hypersonic weapons development, as well as its testing of anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons and apparent preparations for space warfare also remain cause for concern—and run counter to its stated goals of peaceful development.