China Lucks Out Again as Out-of-Control Rocket Booster Falls in the Pacific Ocean
This past Friday, May 3, 2019, a “balloon” of a smallish rocket booster, which had been developed and made by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) in the Chinese space industry, fell into the Pacific Ocean after the rocket’s rocket engine started running and blew up during its launch. The accident occurred as the rocket, which was launched from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, was taking off.
According to the accident report, the booster fell in the Pacific Ocean east of the Marshall Islands. The CALT team said that the rocket, which was designed to be launched into space, could only be “launched from sea or river water.” The report said the booster was being launched at a speed of about 3.8 kilometers (or 2.7 miles) per second and that the rocket engine was ignited after the engine had been turned on. The report did not provide the weight of the booster, but it carried the call letters of “ZYB-2” and was identified as a “spacecraft” by the Chinese Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
According to Xinhua, this is the fourth accident that the Chinese space industry has suffered in recent years. Previous such accidents have led to the loss of three rocket boosters and several vehicles and satellites. In 2016, a rocket booster of the same type that had been launched earlier in 2016 crashed into the Pacific Ocean east of the Marshall Islands, leading to the loss of the rocket booster and its payload. In 2017, two pieces of a rocket booster crashed into the Pacific Ocean. The rocket booster belonged to the Shenzhou 6, which had just been launched, and its satellite, designated “Zuma,” which carried the country’s first-ever satellite. In 2018, a rocket booster of a Chinese spacecraft, designated “Changhe,” was lost over the same place after it was launched.
On February 11, 1989, the Soviet Union launched the first satellite into space, a satellite called Kosmos 2251, the first communication satellite, designated “Kosmos 2251.” After