Chinese Rocket’s Fiery Crash Near Residential Area with Toxic Smoke
Recently, an online video went viral, showing debris from a Chinese rocket used for launching satellites landing dangerously close to a residential area in the south.
As reported by the American space aviation media outlet Space.com, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) conducted the launch of the Long March 3B rocket, carrying two satellites, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province. The launch occurred at 12:26 PM (Korean time) on the 26th of the previous month.
These two satellites were intended for deployment in China’s BeiDou satellite navigation system. According to the U.S. Space Force’s Space Domain Awareness (SDA), the satellites successfully reached their intended destination in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) as planned by the CNSA.
However, the concerning issue emerged with the leftover rocket debris. A pair of side boosters from the Long March 3B rocket appeared perilously close to residential areas.
A video widely shared on Chinese social media captured a booster plummeting toward a mountain near the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region before erupting in an explosion. This region lies to the south of Xichang in Sichuan Province. Another video corroborated that debris fell behind a residence, enveloping the vicinity in a cloud of yellow smoke.
Space journalist Andrew Jones shared the video, explaining that “this kind of falling booster action was a feature of the Long March 3B launches of Beidou satellites from Xichang.”
SpaceNews.com, the first to report on the incident, explained that the reddish-brown gas visible in both videos was identified as nitrogen tetroxide. The yellow smoke emanating from the booster that landed near a house was due to unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH), a type of rocket fuel used in China and other countries, reacting with the air.
The report stated that the Long March 3B’s first stage and four side boosters utilize a mix of nitrogen tetroxide and UDMH. It also noted that both types of smoke, resulting from these chemicals, can be lethal if inhaled, as they are highly toxic substances.
This is not the first report of a rocket booster falling near residential areas when China launches BeiDou satellites. In 2019, a booster fell on a house, completely destroying it.
Space.com highlighted that these kinds of accidents result from China’s satellite launch sites being situated inland rather than on the coast. The outlet also added that authorities issue notices and evacuation orders to alert nearby residents of potential dangers before rocket launches.
By. Hee Won Seo