By David Bandurski — As I was browsing through the news page at today, I noticed something interesting about one of the photos popping up on their usual slideshow of featured stories. The image showed a booster from the multistage rocket that launched the Chinasat-9 direct-broadcast television satellite into orbit on June 9. It sat, a hulk of burned out technology, with the mountains of Guizhou rising in the distance. But close behind the booster — way too close for comfort — you could see the shingled tops of a pair of homes. “Woah!” I thought.
The accompanying news caption from the official China News Service took this all very much in stride:

On June 10, the wreckage of a booster rocket is seen in Jianggu Village, Zhenyuan County, of the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Minority Autonomous Prefecture of Guizhou Province. On June 9 at 8:15 p.m. our country’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center successfully sent our first direct broadcast satellite, the Zhongxing-9, into orbit with a Long March-3B rocket carrier. Several minutes after liftoff, four boosters successfully disengaged and landed safely in Zhenyuan, Qiandongnan.

Wait a minute. Is this the entire story? Can we have some responses from villagers, please? And perhaps a few comments from the good folks at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center? I mean, just look at this picture!


There were not many responses to the QQ item this afternoon, but I decided to click on the comments section just to see whether I was alone in being concerned about this. Here is what Chinese readers had to say:

From: not specified
“It looks like it’s right next to houses. Lucky it didn’t land right on the roofs!”
From: Dongguan
“How dangerous! If it had landed just a bit to one side it would have hit those houses. Can’t we think of a way to control where it comes down? Shouldn’t we avoid unfortunate accidents?”
From: Yongzhou
“That first picture looks really dangerous . . . “
From: not specified
“I feel faint. It landed right next to that house!”
From: Zhejiang
“I feel really awful about this somehow.”

UPDATE (4:58pm):
There are now 253 responses to this news item on QQ. Here are a few more:

From: Dehongzhou
“Landing no more than 10 meters from a private residence — is that what you call success?”
From: Shenzhen
“Even if it didn’t land on anyone, it’s not good to destroy the ecology either!”
From: Shanghai
“My heart felt cold when I saw that picture. What if it had hit someone? Did no one think of this before? If there’s a danger of injuring people in launching satellites, I’d rather they not do it. Human life is the most important thing. I hope this is a lesson to us. The lives of our brothers and sisters in the mountains are precious too.”
From: Nanchang
“That is so eco- unfriendly!”
From: Shanghai
“What are all of you fussing about? This is a good thing.”
From: Changsha
“Is that really where they planned for it to land? How can it be so close to people’s homes?”
From: Lishui City
“Oh, Big Brother is really ingenious! I can’t stop laughing!”
From: Chongqing
“Oh, this is classic!”

UPDATE (1:09pm HK, June 12):
There are now 2,308 comments to this news item on QQ.
[Posted by David Bandurski, June 11, 2008, 2:53pm HK]

David Bandurski

CMP Director

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