China launched its Long March 4B rocket Monday, sending an Earth observation satellite to orbit – but the booster’s return was not so successful.
Footage released after the launch shows the booster falling back to Earth, narrowly missing a school, before crashing and exploding in a nearby town.
The horrifying scene was captured near the Lilong village, Gaoyao Town in the Luonan county of Shaanxi province and the video surfaced on the Chinese social media site Weibo.
The booster was seen quickly falling from space, with bystanders yelling in the background after realized it had traveled off path and was heading towards a school.
China launched its remote sensing satellite, called Gaofen-11 (2), Monday morning, which will be used in land census, urban planning, road network design, crop estimation and disaster prevention, Space.com reported.
The satellite joins China’s High-resolution Earth Observation System, which began in 2010 and launched the first device in 2013.
China has kept a tight lid on its satellite constellation, but footage of the first Gaofen 11 in 2018 and previous footage suggests these specific technologies are part of a larger aperture telescope used to observe Earth.
And although Gaofen-11 (2) made its way to orbit, the Long Marc 4B rocket booster that took it there had a hard time returning home.
Footage surfaced shortly after the launch of the failing booster, which instantly exploded into a massive orange cloud after making a crash landing.
The video shows the booster off in a distance and bystanders watching who begin shouting once they see it is headed towards a nearby school.
The clip then shows a view from inside the town, with a massive orange and yellow cloud in the background – the booster luckily missed the school.
Although no injury reports have surfaced, the Long March 4B first stage is fuled with a toxic mixture of hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide that can causes serious health problems for those who come in contact with the concoction.
Although this launch was not a complete success, China completed a separate one of Friday that took off without any problems.
The country set off a reusable experimental spacecraft aboard its Long March 2-F carrier into orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwestern Chinese region Inner Mongolia, reported state media Xinhua, without specifying the time of the launch.
No images of the spacecraft or its lift-off have yet to be released. Staff and visitors at the launch site were prevented from filming or discussing the project online, according to reports.
The reusable experimental spacecraft is currently in orbit and testing ‘reusable technologies during its flight, providing technological support for the peaceful use of space’, said Xinhua.
It is scheduled to return to a Chinese landing site at an unspecified date.
By STACY LIBERATORE