(ORDO NEWS) — A Chinese booster made an uncontrolled return to Earth on Saturday, prompting US officials to chide Beijing for failing to provide information about the descent of a potentially dangerous object.
US Space Command “can confirm that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Long March 5B (CZ-5B) re-entered the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean at approximately 10:45 Moscow time on July 30,” the US military unit said on Twitter.
“We will refer you to #PRC for more information on the technical aspects of reentry, such as potential debris dispersion + impact site,” the post reads.
In a statement posted on the official WeChat profile, the Chinese manned space agency later released the coordinates of the strike zone in the Sulu Sea, about 35 miles (57 km) off the east coast of the Philippine island of Palawan.
“Most of its devices were removed and destroyed upon re-entry,” the agency said of the booster used last Sunday to launch the second of three modules needed by China to complete its new Tiangong spacecraft. ace.
The Malaysian space agency said it found rocket debris burning up on re-entry before falling into the Sulu Sea northeast of the island of Borneo.
“Rocket debris caught fire while entering Earth’s airspace, and the movement of burning debris also crossed Malaysian airspace and could be detected in several areas, including crossing airspace around the state of Sarawak,” the report said.
Criticism of NASA
NASA administrator Bill Nelson slammed Beijing on Twitter, saying the failure to share details of the rocket’s descent was irresponsible and risky.
“All space nations must follow established best practices and contribute. share such information in advance,” wrote Nelson, “to provide reliable predictions of the potential risk of debris impact, especially for heavy vehicles such as the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property.”
He added: “This is very important for responsible space and for the safety of people on Earth.”
The Tiangong space station is one of the crown jewels of Beijing’s ambitious space program. made China only the third country to put humans into orbit.
The new module, powered by a Long March 5B, successfully docked on Monday with the Tiangong main module and three astronauts who lived in the main compartment. Since June, he has successfully entered the new laboratory.
When China launched its first Tiangong module in April 2021, there was a similar frenzy around the potential for damage caused by an unpredictable re-entry booster.
Objects release enormous amounts of heat and friction when released into the atmosphere, which can cause them to ignite and disintegrate. But larger ones, such as the Long March 5B, may not be completely destroyed.
In 2020, debris from another Chinese rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injury or death.
China has invested billions of dollars in space flight and research in an effort to create a program that reflects its status as a rising world power.
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