Watch: Disaster strikes as Chinese space rocket aimed at rivaling Musk’s Space X explodes into mountain after accidental launch

Viral video caught the moment that a Chinese space rocket crashed into a mountain shortly after an accidental launch on Sunday.

The Tianlong-3 (“Sky Dragon 3”) rocket accidentally launched during what was supposed to be a ground test of the vessel’s booster.

The two-stage Tianlong-3 is a partly reusable rocket under development by Space Pioneer – a rival of Elon Musk’s Space X. The Tianlong-3 rocket is a competitor of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 spacecraft.

During the ground test, the Tianlong-3 space rocket unintentionally detached from the test bench at the launch pad due to a structural failure. The botched launch was intended to be a routine “static fire” of the rocket’s engine with the spacecraft remaining on the launch pad, according to reports.

Dramatic video shows the space rocket launch and then losing power and bending sideways seconds later. The rocket is seen on video falling from the sky in a horizontal motion. The rocket finally crashed back down to Earth and made a huge explosion in a mountain region near the city of Gongyi in central China’s Henan Province, less than a mile away from the launch site.

“Due to the structural failure of the connection between the rocket body and the test platform, the first-stage rocket was separated from the launch pad,” Space Pioneer said in a statement. “After liftoff, the onboard computer was automatically shut down, and the rocket fell into the deep mountains 1.5 kilometers [0.9 miles] southwest of the test platform. The rocket body fell into the mountain and disintegrated.”

Space Pioneer – a private Chinese business also known as Beijing Tianbing Technology founded in 2019 – reported that there were no injuries or casualties after an initial investigation, according to Reuters.

Space Pioneer noted that parts of the rocket were scattered within a “safe area,” but did cause a fire in the area after the spacecraft exploded. The fire has since been extinguished.

Space Pioneer compares the performance of Tianlong-3 to SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

The Tianlong-3 rocket stands at 230 feet high, and is capable of carrying up to 17 tons into orbit.

The Tianlong-3’s maiden launch mission had been scheduled for July before Sunday’s accident.

Space Pioneer is a space company known for specializing in liquid-propellant rockets.

In April 2023, Space Pioneer successfully launched its Tianlong-2 rocket, making it China’s first commercial launch operator to send a liquid carrier rocket into space and successfully enter orbit.

However, this is the second Chinese rocket failure in a week. Just days before the Toanlong-3’s explosion, the Long March 2C rocket blew up into pieces shortly after launch and rained down debris on a popular region.

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