Toxic Debris From Chinese Rocket Drops On Village

Gif: @Byron_Wan / X
Gif: @Byron_Wan / X

Debris from a rocket launched by the Chinese space program came crashing down on a village in southwestern China on Saturday. The footage of the orange plume that emerged on social media was so shocking that the country’s government banned local residents from continuing to record the recovery process, CNN reports. And before you even had to ask, the orange smoke was a toxic combination of nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine.

Video shows the first-stage booster of the Long March 2C rocket falling into a rural area. The rocket was launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, carrying the Space Variable Objects Monitor x-ray telescope into orbit. The first stage’s crash site was in Xianqiao, Guizhou, China, roughly 400 miles southeast of the launch site. Rocket expert Markus Schiller told CNN:


“If you want to launch something to low Earth orbit, you usually launch it in the easterly direction to get some extra boost from the rotation of the Earth. But if you launch to the east, there are definitely always some villages in the pathway of the boosters of the first stage.”

Other space programs have their launch facilities in coastal areas, so there’s nothing downrange except the open ocean. NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, and SpaceX’s Starbase in South Texas is on the Gulf Coast. However, China has always constructed its launch sites inland to defend against observation and attack.

China hasn’t let rocket debris hamper the progress of its ambitious space program before. The program is in the midst of expanding its Tiangong space station. Not to mention, China and Russia agreed to partner in constructing another station in lunar orbit to rival the Artemis program’s Gateway station.

For the latest news, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.