A huge piece of rocket debris crashed through the roof of a house in Hongjun township, near the city of Ankang in China’s Shaanxi Province. Despite extensive damage to the house, miraculously, no one was injured.
Though yet to be confirmed, it is believed that the piece of debris is from a Long March 4C rocket, which launched from the Taiyuan rocket launch center carrying the new Yaogan-27 satellite moments before the incident.
While the European space agency, the United States, and India all launch their rockets near a coastline, ensuring any debris falls into the ocean, all of China’s space centers are located inland.
According to Yu Menglun, a rocket specialist and scholar with the Chinese Academy of Science, rocket launches in China are typically done in remote locations with rocket debris falling anywhere within 30 to 70 kilometers away. Yu said China has been looking into ways to control how debris from rockets land, including implementing “recyclable” options in which rocket parts will “fly” back to their point of origin on their own.
This is not the first time Chinese rocket debris has nearly killed somebody on the ground. This past January, parts from a Long March 3A rocket were found by a rural road in Fuquan, Guizhou after taking off from a launch site 300 miles to the west.