That explosion...

Raining Rockets

Videos circulating on social media show what appears to be a pair of rocket boosters of a Chinese Long March 3B rocket uncontrollably tumbling towards a forested and inhabited area, erupting in massive balls of fire.

One video, originally spotted by SpaceNews journalist Andrew Jones on Chinese social media website Weibo, shows the massive object tumbling as it makes its rapid descent.

A different video shows the ensuing carnage of what appears to be a different booster exploding near a building, with the surrounding brush catching fire.

It's only the latest example of China's space program carelessly allowing its discarded rockets to uncontrollably fall back towards the ground. We've seen plenty of other instances of Long March rocket parts plummeting back down over often inhabited areas — not oceans — in reckless behavior that has drawn criticism from other space programs around the world including NASA.

Erupting Flames

The rocket launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on December 26, delivering two satellites developed by space contractor China Academy of Space Technology into medium Earth orbit, as SpaceNews reports.

But the Long March 3B's two side boosters appear to have made it back to Earth in an uncontrolled way, landing in inhabited areas of the country's Guangxi region of its Sichuan province.

Worse yet, some of the "reddish-brown gas or smoke" indicates the presence of leftover "fuel mixing with air," according to SpaceNews.

And it could've been worse. In 2019, a different booster of a Long March 3B rocket smashed into a home. Footage at the time showed the rural building erupting in flames as fumes from leftover propellant rose from the wreckage.

The country's space contractor that developed the satellites has been working on grid fins and even parachutes to guide its boosters back down toward targeted areas.

Considering the latest videos, though, it clearly still has a lot of work to do.

More on Chinese spacecraft: Chinese Spacecraft Emitting Strong Signal Over North America

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