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HomeNews ReportsFalcon 9 rocket copy Tianlong-3 being developed by Chinese aerospace company escapes from test...

Falcon 9 rocket copy Tianlong-3 being developed by Chinese aerospace company escapes from test pad during static-fire test, crashes and explodes

The rocket got detached from the holding structure due a structural failure at the connection between the rocket body and the test bench, and the engine blasted off

A rocket being developed by Chinese aerospace company Space Pioneer, also known as Beijing Tianbing Technology Co. Ltd, took off unintentionally during a test firing and then crashed causing a massive explosion. The incident took place at the company’s test facility in Gongyi country, Henan province, on 20 June. However, the rocket fell on a hillside and nobody was hit.

Space Pioneer was test-firing a stage of the Tianlong-3 rocket which ended in a catastrophic failure and a dramatic explosion. The company said that it was intended to be a static-fire test of the first stage of its Tianlong-3 launch vehicle at its test facility in Henan. During this test, clamps and other structures are used to hold the rocket stage in place while test-firing the rocket engine.

The test was conducted to test the power of the first stage of the Tianlong-3 vehicle. The test started at 3.43 PM on Sunday, and the engines were fired according to the plan. The first-stage rocket ignited normally, and the engine thrust reached 820 tons after some time. But then, the rocket got detached from the holding structure due to a structural failure at the connection between the rocket body and the test bench, and the engine blasted off.

The nine-engine first stage of the rocket took off like a normal rocket launch and reached some height. But after some time, the engines shut down, causing the rocket to halt, tilt, and fall to the ground. As the rocket was filled with kerosene-liquid oxygen propellant, most of which remained unused, it triggered a spectacular explosion when the rocket stage hit the ground.

The company said in a statement that the onboard computer automatically shut down after the unintentional liftoff.

The stage landed in a mountainous area about 1.5 kilometres from the launch site and broke apart on impact. Space Pioneer later said that no casualties were reported due to the incident. The villagers in the remote area were already evacuated before the test.

The company said that it was the most challenging test on the propulsion system in the development of the rocket, which aims the double the engine thrust compared to existing Chinese rockets. Tianlong-3 is benchmarked against the SpaceX Falcon 9, and the tests are being done ahead of its orbital launch.

The company’s statement said that the test involved the simultaneous ignition of all nine Tianhuo-12 engines in the first stage. They said that it is the most powerful power system test of any carrier rocket currently under development in the country, and is three times more powerful than any previous test of the largest thrust in China’s aerospace industry.

Tianlong-3 is a large two-stage kerolox medium-lift orbital launch vehicle with a reusable first stage made by Tianbing Technology. It is intended to cater to the market of low-cost space launches, like the launch of the country’s satellite Internet constellation and to run supply missions to Tiangong Space Station. It has a diameter of 3.8 meters, a take-off mass of 590 tons, a low-Earth orbit (LEO) capacity of 17 tons, and a sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) capacity of 14 tons to 500 km. These capacities are comparable to Falcon 9 of SpaceX.

Moreover, just like Falcon 9, the first stage of Tianlong-3 is designed to vertically land after a launch, which can be reused. For these reasons, the rocket is dubbed a copy or clone of Falcon 9.

The company added that it will investigate the causes of the failure, and organise the production and testing of new products.

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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