China continues to put people at risk with rockets falling from the sky after work is completed

  • The launch vehicle that launched the French-Chinese SVOM satellite into orbit crashed into a mountain in Sichuan province a few minutes later.

  • To make matters worse, it used a hypergolic propulsion system, which was cheaper and controllable, but highly toxic and corrosive.

The recent launch of a joint French-Chinese mission from China’s Sichuan province has drawn more attention to how the Asian country manages its space launch vehicles than to the satellite itself.

New release. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) CZ-2C rocket took off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on Saturday at 7:00 UTC.

The rocket launched a French-Chinese satellite called SVOM, the world’s most powerful new observatory for detecting gamma-ray bursts, short-lived cosmic explosions that are extremely powerful and emit high-energy beams.

New lottery. A few minutes after takeoff, the rocket’s first stage separated from the second and began its free-fall return to earth until it collided with a leafy mountain near the launch platform.

Residents in this rural area of ​​China who had come to watch the space launch experienced a brief moment of panic when they saw the launch vehicle approaching with a thick yellow trail.

A very toxic trace. The CZ-2C rocket uses a hypergolic propulsion system, which is cheaper and more controllable than a cryogenic propulsion system, but the characteristic yellow color of its exhaust is due to the presence of nitrogen tetroxide (N₂O₄), a highly toxic and corrosive oxidizer.

The fuel, unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH), is classified as a carcinogen and can cause serious damage to the liver and other organs. During the 1975 Apollo-Soyuz mission, three American astronauts were nearly seriously injured when they were briefly exposed to this fuel.

Weak regulation in China. Almost all of the world’s expendable rockets land in certain ocean areas, but Chinese space regulations (rather lax compared to those in Europe and the US) allow rockets like the CZ-2 and CZ-3 side boosters to land near populated areas . territory, soaking everything in its path with toxic fuel.

China has tried to add aerodynamic arrays to these missiles to steer them away from populated areas, and is exploring the use of parachutes and other reusable technologies in the future, but the images taken on Saturday, images that have been repeated for years, show you’re in no rush to do anything change.

China’s lack of strict regulation gives it a competitive economic advantage and allows its space program to grow rapidly. The environmental and human costs of this growth are questionable.

Images | KASK, Weibo

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