A Chinese booster rocket made an uncontrolled return to Earth on Saturday, prompting US officials to reprimand Beijing for not sharing information about the descent of the potentially dangerous object.
The US Space Command “can confirm the re-entry of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Long March 5B (CZ-5B) into the Indian Ocean on 7/30 at 10:45am MDT,” the US military unit said on Twitter. “
“We refer you to the #PRC for more details on technical aspects of re-entry such as potential debris dispersion+ impact site,” he said.
In a statement posted on its official WeChat profile, China’s manned space agency later gave coordinates for an impact zone in the Sulu Sea, about 35 miles (57 km) off the east coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines.
“Most of its equipment was dismantled and destroyed during re-entry,” the agency said of the booster rocket, the second of three modules needed by China to complete its new Tiangong space station last Sunday. was used to launch
Malaysia’s space agency said it detected debris from the rocket on re-entry before crashing into the Sulu Sea, northeast of Borneo island.
“The rocket debris caught fire while entering Earth’s airspace and the movement of burning debris also crossed Malaysian airspace and affected several areas including crossing the airspace around the state of Sarawak. can be detected”.
Criticism of NASA
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson criticized Beijing on Twitter, saying the failure to disclose details of the rocket’s descent was irresponsible and dangerous.
“All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices, and do their part to share this type of information in advance,” Nielsen wrote, “reliable prediction of the risk of potential debris impacts. To allow goies, especially for heavy-lift vehicles, such as the Long March 5B, which carries a significant risk of loss of life and property.”
He added: “Doing so is critical to ensuring the responsible use of space and the safety of people here on Earth.”
The Tiangong space station is one of the crown jewels of Beijing’s ambitious space program, which has landed robotic rovers on Mars and the moon, making China only the third country to put humans in orbit.
The new module powered by Long March 5B successfully docked with the Tiangong core module on Monday and the three astronauts who have been living in the main compartment since June successfully entered the new lab.
When China launched its first Tiangong module in April 2021, there was similar frenzy around the possibility of damage from an unexpected booster re-entry.
Objects generate a lot of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, causing them to burn up and disintegrate. But large ones like Long March-5B may not be completely destroyed.
In 2020, debris from another Chinese rocket fell on villages in Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.
China has spent billions of dollars on spaceflight and exploration as it seeks to build a program that reflects its stature as a rising global power.
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