US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — NASA administrator Jim Breidenstein, after the debris left from the main stage of the Chinese Long March-5B rocket fell in Africa, called this situation “really dangerous.” In a statement, he said space exploration should “inspire hope and surprise, not fear and danger.”
On May 5, China launched a new version of its Long March-5 LM-5B rocket. The LM-5 family is the largest in the Chinese fleet, roughly comparable to the American Delta IV Heavy. Unlike its cousin LM-5, the LM-5B does not have a second stage. Instead, it has a much larger fairing to accommodate large payloads.
It was a test launch into the orbit of an experimental spacecraft for the crew. Naturally, there was no one on board.
After testing, the spacecraft will be used to deliver crews to the new multi-module Chinese space station, which China plans to build in low Earth orbit until 2022. All three core CSS modules will also be launched by the LM-5B rocket. China will also use the LM-5B to launch a robotic spacecraft to the moon and Mars this year – a mission to return the lunar samples Change-5, as well as the Tianwen-1 Mars orbiting and landing vehicle.
The first stage of the LM-5B, or the main stage, is supplemented by four accelerators that fall shortly after launch, while the main reaches the orbit along with the payload. A few days later she makes an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere. In this case, she remained in orbit until May 11. Since there was no way to control her descent, she accidentally fell over the Atlantic Ocean.
Pieces of space debris constantly make uncontrolled reentries. They are reported in the news only if they land in settlements, which is extremely rare, since the Earth’s surface is 70 percent covered with water. Initially, it seemed that was exactly what happened this time.
But soon on social networks photos of residents of Côte d’Ivoire appeared, which stand next to what, according to experts, should be the main step of the LM-5B. It is of
great concern that this is only the first launch of the LM-5B. The question is whether the Earth’s population below the trajectory of the main stages of the LM-5B will be at risk each time it starts, or whether China will take steps to reduce the risk.
The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, of which China is a member, published a number e mitigation guidelines in 2010.
Within its borders, China has a rather harsh attitude towards missile stages and other debris that fall on villages.
Breidenstein raised the issue of the fallen part of LM-5B in the context of NASA’s release of the Artemis Accords, a set of principles that the United States is asking international partners to accept if they want to join the Artemis program to bring astronauts back to the moon. One of them is to act responsibly with respect to orbital debris and the disposal of space debris.
At a meeting of the regulatory and policy committee of the NASA Advisory Council, he called the return “truly dangerous.”
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