Explosion at China’s space launch center revealed by satellite imagery

Helsinki — Commercial satellite imagery shows a rocket facility that was severely damaged by an explosion at the Jiuquan satellite launch center in China in October 2021.

Jiuquan Spaceport is located in the Gobi Desert and hosts major orbital launches, including all Shenzhou manned space flight missions in the country. Founded in 1958, it was the first of the four national spaceports in China.

Evidence of the explosion was discovered by space lovers Harry Stranger Posted on Twitter on June 10th using images from Airbus and CNES.

The incident occurred at a facility built about 16 kilometers southwest of two major launch facilities in Jiuquan.A pair of launch pads will be used by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) The launch of the Hypergolic Long March rocket for manned space flight, civilian, military, and scientific missions was unaffected by the blast.

The high resolution image shows the facility that may have been used to test the solid rocket motor in October 2021. The apparent aftermath of the explosion is shown in the November 2021 image.

Further satellite images from the planet’s Super Dub satellites seen by SpaceNews It indicates that the explosion occurred between 0316 UTC on October 15th and 0407 UTC on October 16th (11:16 pm on October 14th and 12:07 am on October 16th eastern part).

Manned mission of Shenzhou 13 in China Take off from Jiuquan On October 15th, 16:23 UTC (12:23 pm east), it was suggested that the explosion had little or no impact on the country’s major space contractor, CASC and its major activities.

There are no signs that the explosion was reported by the Chinese media. Therefore, it is somewhat unclear what the facility was used for and what caused the explosion. Given the profile of the launch at Jiuquan, the structure may have been related to the testing and assembly of solid rockets operated by non-CASC entities. Construction of the test facility began in September 2018.

Although it is a huge state-owned defense contractor different from CASIC and CASC, My cosmic ambitionIs developing a series of solid rockets for orbital launch, Established infrastructure Launch of Kuaizhou-1A and large Kuaizhou-11 rockets at Jiuquan using transporter erector launchers rather than launch pads or service structures.

Both of these are suffering from boot failures. The former suffered a breakdown in December 2021 after returning to flight in early autumn. The Kuaizhou-11 was first and so far only failed to launch in 2020 and has remained grounded ever since.

Earlier reports, Kuaizhou-11 was scheduled to return to flight by the end of 2021.news release Expace, a subsidiary of CASIC, has indicated that preparations for final assembly of the launch are underway in August. No such launch attempts have been reported.

China’s solid rocket efforts

The launch of the Kuaizhou rocket from Jiuquan is part of a broader promotion to development. Solid rocket launch capabilityIncludes privately funded launch service providers.

However, many solid rockets have experienced failures, and the private company iSpace 3 consecutive losses Last month’s mission questioned the outlook for the Hyperbolic-1 rocket. The launch of Landspace and OneSpace in 2018 and 2019 also failed.

However, alternatives are also under consideration. Galactic Energy, established after the early commercial movers mentioned above, both We have launched the Ceres-1 rocket and are planning a third rocket around July.

Spin-off from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), CAS Space is preparing for its first mission using the ZK-1A, which is designed to carry up to 2 metric tons of payload to LEO. Off in June or July. The CASC spin-off China Rocket will launch one Jielong-1 (“smart dragon”) rocket and a larger Jielong-3 later this year. CASC also operates Long March 11 from Jiuquan and other sites.

Jiuquan is also hosting the construction of infrastructure for the launch of a new methane-liquid oxygen launcher, Landspace Zhuque-2 rocket test launch In the near future.

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