China Rocket Debris Falls Back To Earth, Explodes

Shortly after a joint China-France satellite launch on Saturday, part of a Long March 2-C rocket fell back to Earth and exploded near a residential area. The rocket, carrying the Space Variable Objects Monitor (SVOM) satellite, lifted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre at 3:00 am local time on June 22. It is reported that a booster component of the rocket was the part that fell.

A video circulating on social media captures the moment the rocket fell onto a populated area, causing panic as people fled for cover.

The Long March 2C rocket utilizes a hypergolic mixture of nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH), both of which are toxic to humans. This raised concerns online about the potential inhalation of these hazardous substances.

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Despite the incident, Chinese authorities declared the mission a success, confirming that the satellite, which is the most powerful yet for studying distant star explosions, successfully reached orbit. According to China’s National Space Administration, the satellite’s mission is to study celestial phenomena, including gamma-ray bursts, and it is expected to significantly advance astronomical discoveries.

This launch represents the first astronomy satellite jointly developed by China and France, underscoring Beijing’s increasing capabilities in space and lunar exploration, which have attracted collaborations from European and Asian partners.

Earlier this month, China announced that its Chang’e-6 lunar probe successfully transferred samples collected from the moon’s far side to a spacecraft in lunar orbit. The unmanned spacecraft is expected to return to Earth around June 25, potentially making China the first country to retrieve lunar matter from the moon’s permanently far side.

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