January 13, 2018
Chinese Long March 3B Rocket Booster Falls From Sky And Explodes Near A Small Town

On Friday, a booster from a Chinese Long March 3B rocket crash landed and exploded near Xiangdu, a town in Guangxi province. The booster caught fire immediately after exploding. Luckily, no injuries were reported in this incident. The locals, who were initially shocked to see the rocket falling from the sky, captured videos of the incident and shared them on the social media.

China's Long March 3B rocket was launched on Friday from China's Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province to send the 26th and 27th Beidou satellites (Beidou-3 GNSS) into orbit, according to the GB Times.

The incidents of unused rocket parts falling near inhabited towns are not very rare in China. The initial rocket launching sites in the country were established during the Cold War era. At that time, the government decided to establish rocket launching facilities deep inland due to security concerns. The Xichang rocket launching facility is also located hundreds of kilometers away from the coastline, which means all rockets launched from this facility fly over land to reach their orbit. When these rockets shed their strap-on boosters, they fall in some specific "drop zones." Xiangdu town, where rocket booster fell on Friday, also lies within a designated "drop zone." Xiangdu is located about 700 km away from the launch site. Although "drop zones" for rocket stages are precisely calculated and people are informed about the launching events in advance, incidents of unused rocket parts falling near inhabited areas could result in fatal accidents someday, according to experts.

Recently, China has constructed some new rocket launching facilities located near the coastline. The Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Hainan Island in the South China Sea is now being used to launch the Long March 5 and 7 rockets.
The booster that fell near Xiangdu on Friday did not hit any buildings or people, although it could have posed serious health hazards to curious locals that immediately went near the site to shoot the incident with their mobile phones. These locals making shouts and noises, as shown in the video, were unaware of the fact that a falling rocket booster contains highly toxic hypergolic propellant that could be dangerous if inhaled or after coming in contact with the skin.