We have good news and bad news. The good news is that A Chinese Long March 4B rocket has successfully launched a satellite on Monday. The bad news is that the booster nearly crashed close to a school when it fell back to Earth. People have the event on camera.
The rocket lift-off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center at 1:57 p.m. local time. It had with it the Gaofen 11 (02) Earth observation satellite. We are talking about an optical observation satellite that was able to return to Earth high-resolution images. It was capable of showing features that were as small as 1 meter across.
All the data we got from the Gaofen satellite was used for land surveys, land rights confirmation, and city planning. Also, disaster prevention and mitigation.
The observation satellite also comes with information about the Belt and Road construction. It is set to join a larger suite of Gaofen and many other satellites observing Earth. This is all part of the CHEOS – China High-resolution Earth Observation System.
Some impressive footage from today's Long March 4B first stage return.
— LaunchStuff (@LaunchStuff) September 7, 2020
We don’t know much about these satellites. We have some videos from 2018 which shows the satellite being a large telescope used for Earth observation.
After the launch, videos show the first stage of the Long March 4B falling to Earth and then exploding into a cloud of smoke. People caught it on video near the Gaoyao Town, in the Shaanxi province.
One piece of footage appears to be taken from a school yard with children’s voices audible and a plume of smoke visible in the distance.
The Long March 4B first stage uses a mix of toxic hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide for propellant. Contact with either could bring serious effects on health.