Two technology demonstration satellites were launched by China from a 2C rocket on Wednesday. Even though the mission was initially declared as a success, it was later reported that the first stage of the rocket fell down on a town located in Niuchang Town.
The Xinhua press agency reported on the launch of the satellites dubbed XJSW A and XJSW B saying, “China successfully launched new-tech experiment twin satellites on the Long March-2C rocket from southwest China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center Wednesday morning. The twin satellites were launched at 11:30 a.m., [local time] and entered their intended orbit.”
Even though the exact purpose of the satellites is a mystery, the press said that their plan is to “link the inter-satellite network and conduct new technology tests on satellites Earth-observation.” However, the information about their exact orbit is still not known.
A video of the first stage of the rocket landing on the ground has been trending on the social media and even though there are no reports of casualties from the impact of the first stage, the fuel of the rocket consists of a toxic combination of unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine fuel and dinitrogen tetroxide oxidizer.
China has 4 rocket launch sites but they are not in isolated lands, three of them namely Jiuquan, Taiyuan, and Xichang are all located inland. People living around these areas are warned about the rocket launches prior to the launch.
— ChinaSpaceflight (@cnspaceflight) January 12, 2018
Andrew Jones, a freelance journalist covering China’s spaceflight program told The Verge about the procedure for warning locals. “There are notices released for the drop zones, depending on what kind of launch and where it’s going. For some places, they’ll evacuate a town or an area, and they try to calculate these drop zones quite carefully to avoid as many inhabited areas as possible.”
China needs to be more careful when it comes to rocket launches if people’s lives are at stake.