A Huge Explosion at Chinese Space Launch Center revealed by satellite imagery

A huge explosion took place at China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the month of October in the year 2021. This huge explosion at Chinese Space Launch Center led to the severe damage to rocket facilities present at the Launch Center, as shown by the commercial satellite images.

China’s Jiuquan Launch Center is present in the Gobi Desert and acts as a host to most orbital satellite launches. Some of its major launches also include China’s Shenzhou humans spaceflight mission. The Launch Center is established in the year 1958 and is said to be China’s first four national spaceports to be constructed.

How was the explosion discovered?

The explosion was discovered by using the imagery from Airbus and CNES. A space enthusiast Harry Stranger discovered the evidence showing the occurrence of an explosion at the Launch Center. The space enthusiast later posted it on Twitter on June 10.

Where did the explosion actually take place?

The explosion took place at the facilities that are constructed and present at a distance of about 16 kilometers to the southern part of the two major launch stations of Jiuquan. There were a pair of launch pads present in that location which are used by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). 

The CASC used these launch pads for its hypergolic Long March rocket launches that act as human spaceflight. There were other civil, military, and scientific missions present in the location where the explosion took place. But none of these missions were affected by the explosion that happened there.

What do the image proofs say about the explosion at Chinese Space Launch Center

Explosion at Chinese Space Launch Center
(Via twitter)

The high-resolution images that were obtained show the exact locations where the explosion took place at the Launch Center. Those images also show the facilities that were said to be used for testing solid rocket motors during the month of October in the year 2021. Some of the images also covered the aftermath of the explosion. This image was obtained in the month of November in the year 2021.

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When did the explosion actually take place?

There were many more images from Planet’s Super Dove satellites that are observed by SpaceNews. These pictures indicate that the explosion took place between 0316 UTC on the 15th of October and 0407 UTC on the 16th of October. These timings relate to 11:16 p.m. on the 14th of October and 12:07 a.m. on the 16th of October.

What are Chinese solid rocket efforts?

China has a major plan of launching Kuaizhou rockets from the Jiuquan launch center. The reason behind these rocket launches is to develop the solid rocket launch capabilities in the country, including the launch service providers that were privately funded.

On the other hand, most solid launch vehicles experienced failures. Along with this, even the private firm iSpace suffered a third consecutive loss of its huge mission that is planned last month. This failure cast several doubts on the prospects of the Hyperbols-1 rocket. In addition to this, the launches of LandSpace and OneSpace also turned out to be a failure.

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Did China plan for any alternatives despite the failures?

Even after experiencing a bunch of failures, the country planned for many alternatives which are already on the way to being implemented whenever needed. Galactic Energy is established after most of the commercial movers. It also succeeded in making two successful launches of its rocket named Ceres-1 rocket and it also has further plans of launching a third rocket in the month of July.


On the other hand, the CAS space came out from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). The CAS space is preparing for its first mission to date. The mission uses ZK-1A which is designed previously to carry a payload of about 2 metric tons to LEO. If this launch turns out to be a success, then it would be China’s largest solid rocket when it gets launched in the month of June or July.

The CASC also has a plan of launching a Chinese rocket named Jielong-1 also popularly known as the ‘Smart Dragon’ rocket. In the future, the company also plans to launch a larger rocket named Jielong-3 during the second half of the year. The CASC is also planning to operate its already present solid Long March 11 from Jiuquan Launch Center and other launch sites.

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