India investigates fallen space debris from China’s Long March rocket

(ORDO NEWS) — The Indian Space Agency examines a large metal ring and a cylinder-like object that fell in rural western India on April 2. Preliminary investigation has shown that they may be parts of the upper stage of a Chinese space rocket that re-entered the atmosphere that day.

Two scientists from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) conducted an on-site study at Sindevahi on April 15. According to local reports, they tentatively identified the objects as parts of China’s Long March rocket. An official investigation is currently underway.

The metal ring has a diameter of two to three meters and weighs more than 40 kilograms.

Observer astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics wrote on April 4 that the ring corresponds to a fragment of China’s Long March 3B rocket.

In another message, McDowell said the crashed objects could be parts of the third stage of a Long March 3B rocket, serial number Y77, which was launched in February 2021. China remains silent on the debris re-entry incident.

“They [two ISRO scientists] took photos and videos of the objects and talked to the people of Ladbori village about the objects,” Suresh Chopne, an activist who oversaw the investigation, told local English newspaper Hindustan Times.

“According to their stories, these objects are believed to be space debris from the Chinese Long March rocket. What type of fuel was in the cylinders can only be said after testing in the laboratory.”

The objects were the remnants of what appeared to be a meteor shower in the night sky of western India on April 2nd.

“We were preparing dinner when the sky lit up with a red disc that crashed into an open area in the village,” a villager told The Times of India. “People ran to their houses, fearing (an explosion), and stayed inside for almost half an hour.” There were no reports of injuries or property damage.

In a statement dated April 5, ISRO confirmed the fall of “a metal ring and an object resembling a cylinder.”

If these objects are confirmed to be parts of a Chinese rocket, it would be the second time in less than a year that debris from a Chinese rocket made an alarming re-entry.

In May 2021, the remnants of the main stage of a Chinese Long March 5B rocket about 30 meters long and five meters wide fell into the Indian Ocean after several days of Chinese silence about where the debris would fall. NASA criticized China for “failing to meet responsible space debris standards.”

A year earlier, debris from another Long March 5B rocket fell on at least two villages off the Ivory Coast after an uncontrolled re-entry of the rocket’s main stage.

In November 2019, a spent stage of a Long March 3B rocket crashed near the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China, destroying a house.

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