Debris from China’s Long March-5B rocket, which was launched last week, fell back into the sea in the Philippines on Sunday, news agencies reported quoting the Chinese government. “Vast majority of wreckage burned up upon re-entering the atmosphere,” officials were quoted as saying by AP.
Several users in Malaysia reported sightings of the rocket debris on social media. One such video was re-shared by Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Centre for Astrophysics, US.
US Space officials said that while it could confirm the booster had re-entered over the Indian Ocean, it referred to China ‘for details on technical aspects’, including impact location. “The People’s Republic of China did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson tweeted separately.
“All space-faring nations should follow established best practices, and do their part to share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy-lift vehicles, like the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property,” he added.
This is the third such incident of an uncontrolled entry by a Chinese rocket booster. NASA accused Beijing of “failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris” after parts of a Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean in May 2021. Before this, an 18-tonne rocket fell uncontrolled in May 2020.
In 2016, Tiangong-1, China’s first space station crashed into the Pacific Ocean after Beijing confirmed it lost control. China has dismissed Western concerns over debris, calling it a smear effort as the US-China space race escalates.
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