Long March 3B rocket booster crashes to Earth near Chinese town
One of the Long March 3B rocket’s four liquid boosters crashed to Earth near houses in Heba Town in southwest China’s Guizhou Province after successfully sending the ApStar-6C communications satellite into space.
The booster that hit the ground originated from a Long March 3B/E rocket launched last week, on May 3, 2018, from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China’s Sichuan Province. The wreckage is part of the “E” variant of the launch vehicle, which features elongated boosters—almost three feet taller than those in standard version—each fitted with a YF-25 engine.
Powering the vehicle for the initial phase of flight, the boosters were likely detached as planned some 2 minutes, 20 seconds after liftoff. They left the rocket being accelerated by its first stage alone, which utilizes a cluster of four YF-21C engines.
Some local residents recorded the wreckage one day after the liftoff as Gbtimes.com reported footage showing the burned-out booster on the ground.
Rocket parts falling near populated areas are common in China as the country has three out of its four launch sites situated at least hundreds of miles away from the coast. Therefore, residents in possible drop zones of rocket stages have to be evacuated for every flight. Generally, China performs around 20 orbital launches annually. However, this year could be record-breaking as about 35 mission are in the launch manifest.
Beijing recently revealed a plan to develop launch vehicles with re-usable stages and boosters, which could greatly decrease the risk posed by expendable rocket parts to populated areas in mainland China.
Video courtesy of CGTN
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