Tianjin warehouse explosion 2015

China shuts down space supercomputer damaged by shockwaves of deadly Tianjin blasts

The Tianhe-1, the world’s fastest supercomputer in 2010, still remains operational, but has been switched off over safety concerns, Xinhua reports

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 August, 2015, 4:19pm
UPDATED : Friday, 14 August, 2015, 1:40am

China has shut down one of its fastest supercomputers used in the nation’s space programme after it was damaged in Wednesday night’s deadly blasts in the northeastern Chinese port of Tianjin .

Massive explosions at a warehouse for dangerous materials in the city killed many people, including firemen called out to tackle the ensuing blazes, while hundreds of other people were also injured.

Watch: Huge explosions rock Tianjin in northeast China

Shockwaves generated by the blasts shattered glass windows and also caused the ceiling to collapse in parts of the National Supercomputing Centre, which is home to the Tianhe-1 supercomputer, Xinhua news agency reported.

The explosions had caused the centre to shake violently and created visible cracks on external walls, other mainland media reported.

The building was situated only a few kilometres away from the site of the blasts, staff said.

Tianhe-1 weighs 150 tonnes and covers an area of 1,000 square metres.

Despite suffering damage, the operation of Tianhe-1 had remained unaffected after the blast, but it was shut down by staff at the centre because of safety concerns, Xinhua said.

The centre’s website was also shut down after the blasts, while no one at the centre was available to answering the phones.

The Tianhe-1, built by the National University of Defence Technology, in Hunan province, has been used mainly for China’s space programmes.

It was the fastest computer in the world – ranked first on the list of the Top 500 supercomputers – from October 2010 until June 2011.

The supercomputing centre lies in the city’s Binhai New Area, a district that is also home to the manufacturing and assembly plant of China’s super-sized space rockets. The government has built a number of hi-tech facilities close to the rocket construction centre.

The rocket production centre, situated further away from the site of the blasts, was not badly affected.

“We are nearly 20km away,” an employee at the rocket production centre’s hydromatic equipment plant told the South China Morning Post. “We are all concerned about the explosions, but production goes on.”

However, it remains unclear whether the blasts will affect the pace of China’s space expansion plans.

The rockets were due to be loaded onto ships at Tianjin harbour and later launched at the new space centre in Wenchang, in Hainan province next year.

The rockets being built in Tianjin will be the largest that China has ever built. They will deliver all the components for the construction of China’s first space station, which is due to be built in about 2022.