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Company apologizes after test rocket crashes

2024-07-03 11:01:15China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese commercial space launch company Beijing Tianbing Technology, also known as Space Pioneer, issued a public apology on Tuesday after a test of the first stage engines of its Tianlong-3 rocket failed in Henan province, causing explosions in a mountainous area that disturbed residents.

Tianlong-3, a two-stage kerosene-liquid oxygen rocket comparable to SpaceX's Falcon 9, experienced the failure during a test of its nine first-stage engines in the city of Gongyi on Sunday.

At 3:43 pm, the engines were fired according to plan, and the engine thrust reached 820 metric tons.

However, a structural failure caused the rocket to detach from its launchpad unexpectedly and blast off. The engines were then switched off by the computer onboard and the rocket crashed in a mountainous area about 1.5 kilometers away, Space Pioneer said.

Many people in Gongyi watched the rocket's descent and posted footage of it exploding in flames on social media sites. No casualties had been reported, the company said on Sunday.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Space Pioneer sincerely apologized to the public for the incident, saying it had caused unnecessary disturbance to people's lives.

The testing facility is far from the city center, it said, and all the people living nearby had been evacuated before the test. Damage to people's houses is being assessed, and the company said it will compensate people for their losses.

Space Pioneer described the test as "most challenging" and said there are high risks and uncertainties behind every breakthrough.

It vowed to put the safety of people's lives and property first in the future and ensure that all tests are carried out safely and rigorously.

The company added that it hopes the public will continue to support the development of China's commercial space industry.

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