A CHINESE rocket booster has exploded after landing on a town in the country’s Shaanxi province.
Footage of the incident posted to Chinese social media shows the booster plummeting to Earth following a satellite launch on Monday.
The rocket part erupts in a ball of orange smoke after crashing back to Earth, apparently narrowly missing a school.
It’s not clear whether anyone was hurt by the explosion, video of which was plastered over social media app Weibo, Space.com reports.
China launched its Earth-watching satellite dubbed Gaofen-2 on Monday morning from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China.
The probe, carried aboard a Long March 4B rocket, will snap photos for use in urban planning, road network design, disaster prevention and more.
The spent first stage of the rocket was successfully jettisoned during launch but appears to have veered off course during its descent.
Footage of the collision was captured near the Lilong village, Gaoyao Town in the Luonan county of Shaanxi province, Space.com reports.
One clip appears to be taken from a school yard with children’s screams audible and smoke billowing from a crash site.
The fuel carried in Long March 4B rocket boosters contains toxic chemicals such as hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide.
These could cause serious harm to anyone who comes into contact with them.
Unlike the United States and other western nations, China’s rocket flights are largely conducted from three sites deep inland.
Their locations were selected to provide security during the Cold War, but they can also lead to dangerous wayward booster crashes.
Most launch sites, such as Nasa’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida, are coastal to allow jettisoned rocket parts to crash safely into the ocean.
China recently opened a coastal site at Wenchang but it can only launch new Long March 5 and 7 rockets from here.
Although Monday’s launch was not a resounding success, China did pull off a flawless rocket flight last week.
Its space agency announced on Friday the launch of a mysterious new reusable spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the country’s northwest desert.
It’s believed the vehicle is a space plane that is carried to orbit before detaching and circling the globe at high altitude.
The spaceship landed on a runway at Jiuquan on Sunday where it will be refurbished for future missions.
In other news, the secretive US space plane X-37B recently landed after a record-breaking 780 days in orbit.
A stargazer captured an image of the mysterious spacecraft from his back garden last year.
And, an Apollo astronaut has admitted that he nearly died ‘trying to do a high jump’ on the Moon in 1972.
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