Chinese space rocket debris crashes to Earth over ocean

RThe remains of a huge Chinese rocket booster crashed into Earth on Saturday over the Indian Ocean, space officials from the United States and China have confirmed.

It is still unclear what path the thruster debris could take, US Space Command said on Twitter on Saturday, referring questions to the Chinese government. China’s spaceflight agency says wreckage from the 23-metric-tonne (25.4-tonne) Long March 5B hit Earth over the sea in the southwestern Philippines, the ‘vast majority’ debris burning in the fall, according to a brief statement that has been criticized. by a US official.

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) did not share specific information about the trajectory when its Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement.

β€œAll space nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance to enable reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy vehicles, such as the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property,” Nelson said.

Experts had estimated the possibility of injury or damage to infrastructure to be low. According to Aerospace Corp., an El Segundo, Calif.-based nonprofit that provides technical advice for space missions and receives US funding.

Prior to re-entry, experts predicted that while much of the massive propellant would burn up on re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, huge chunks – up to 40% – would survive and fall into the oceans or the ground. Some projections had shown a ground track that crossed parts of Mexico and Brazil, then skirted the Cape of Africa before passing over land in Southeast Asia.

It is the third uncontrolled entry of a Chinese rocket booster in as many years. In May 2021, pieces of another Long March rocket landed in the Indian Ocean, raising fears the Chinese space agency may have lost control of it.

Experts have pointed out that uncontrolled returns are preventable. SpaceX rocket boosters, for example, perform vertical landings and are then captured, refurbished and reused in subsequent launches.

China has dismissed Western concerns over the debris, calling it a smear effort as the US-China space race heats up.

“US and Western media deliberately exaggerate and exaggerate the ‘loss of control’ of Chinese rocket debris and the likelihood of injury from rocket debris, obviously with bad intentions,” the news site said. based in Shanghai. Tuesday.

The Long March 5B rocket lifted off on July 24 carrying one of the heaviest payloads in recent years, a module for China’s under-construction Tiangong space station. The Chinese space station was launched after the United States banned Beijing from participating in the International Space Station.

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