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China's SpaceX accidentally launched a rocket during a firing test

China's SpaceX accidentally launched a rocket during a firing test
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Fortunately, there were no casualties, and the rocket landed in mountainous terrain.

This Sunday, the Beijing-based Space Pioneer conducted a test of the first stage of its private Tianlong-3 rocket in Gunyi, a city with a population of about 800,000 in the central Chinese province of Henan. However, during the engine ignition, the attachment mechanism on the launch pad malfunctioned, causing the rocket to suddenly take off.

The unplanned flight lasted about 50 seconds, and eventually Tianlong-3 landed nearby in the mountains — but with a spectacular explosion captured on video by several spectators.

Representatives of the emergency management department in Henan province reported that no one was injured in the explosion. Meanwhile, Space Pioneer stated a "structural failure" in the connection between the stage and the test stand, but the rocket's onboard computer did shut down the engines automatically after detecting unusual activity, and Tianlong-3 landed in the mountains with an explosion.

Space Pioneer has already launched Tianlong-2 into orbit, making it the first private rocket with such an achievement. Tianlong-3, on the other hand, is designed for multiple uses and, according to SpaceNews, was created following the model of SpaceX's Falcon 9.

It is expected that Tianlong-3 will be able to carry up to 17 tons of payload into low Earth orbit, whereas its predecessor was limited to 2 tons.

The new iteration of the rocket is still in the development stage; however, Sunday's accident will likely affect the testing timeline and potential launch.

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