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A Chinese rocket has crashed and exploded into a fireball during an engine test following a "structural failure".

Footage shows a huge fire erupting after the rocket shoots into the air and then plummets straight back down to the ground.

Beijing Tianbing Technology Co said that the first stage of its Tianlong-3 rocket under development had detached from its launch pad.

It landed in a hilly area of the city of Gongyi in central China.

Following an initial investigation, there have been no reported casualties, Beijing Tianbing - also known as Space Pioneer - said in a statement.

Parts of the rocket landed within a "safe area", but caused a local fire.

The Gongyi emergency management bureau said the blaze had been extinguished.

The two-stage Tianlong-3 (Sky Dragon 3) rocket it partly reusable.

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Debris falling from Chinese rockets after its launch has previously occurred.

However, it is very rare for part of a rocket under development to make an unplanned flight out of its test site and crash.

Space Pioneer said the aircraft normally erupts during a hot test but later detached from the test bench due to structural failure and landed in hilly areas 0.9 miles away.

Since the state permitted private investment in 2014, Chinese commercial space companies have rapidly entered the sector.

Many companies began producing satellites, while others, such as Space Pioneer, concentrated on creating reusable rockets to significantly reduce mission costs.

These companies' test sites are situated along China's coastal areas, near the sea for safety reasons.

Space Pioneer says the performance of Tianlong-3 is comparable to SpaceX's Falcon 9.

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