October 7, 2022

The launch of the second module for the Chinese space station Tiangong on July 24.

A Chinese booster rocket returned to Earth unchecked on Saturday, prompting US officials to reprimand Beijing for failing to share information about the potentially dangerous object’s descent.


US Space Command “can confirm that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Long March 5B (CZ-5B) re-entered the Indian Ocean on 7-7 at approximately 10:45 am MDT,” the US military unit said on Twitter.

“We refer you to the #PRC for more information on the technical aspects of the return, such as possible debris dispersal + impact location,” it said.

In a statement on its official WeChat profile, the China Manned Space Agency later provided coordinates for an impact zone in the Sulu Sea, about 57 kilometers off the east coast of Palawan Island in the Philippines.

“Most of its devices were destroyed and destroyed during the return,” the agency said of the booster rocket, which was used last Sunday to launch the second of three modules China needed to complete its new Tiangong space station.

The Malaysian space agency said it discovered rocket debris that burned on reentry before falling into the Sulu Sea northeast of the island of Borneo.

“The debris from the rocket caught fire as it entered Earth’s airspace and the movement of the burning debris also crossed Malaysian airspace and could be detected in several areas, including traversing the airspace around Sarawak state,” it said. .

How China is building its space station

Image showing China’s mission schedule for building its space station.

NASA criticism

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NASA administrator Bill Nelson criticized Beijing on Twitter, saying it was irresponsible and risky to share details about the rocket’s descent.

“All space countries should follow established best practices and do their part to share this kind of information in advance,” Nelson wrote, “to enable 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 critical to the responsible use of space and to ensure 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 and made China only the third country to put humans into orbit.

The new module, powered by the Long March 5B, successfully docked with Tiangong’s core module on Monday, and the three astronauts living in the main compartment since June successfully entered the new lab.

When China launched its first Tiangong module in April 2021, there was a similar frenzy surrounding the possibility of damage caused by an unpredictable booster return.

Objects generate enormous amounts of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, which can cause them to burn and disintegrate. But bigger ones, like the Long March-5B, may not be completely destroyed.

In 2020, debris from another Chinese missile struck villages in Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.

China has invested billions of dollars in spaceflights and explorations as it tries to build a program that reflects its status as an emerging global power.

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Uncontrolled debris from Chinese space rocket could crash back to Earth as soon as possible on Saturday


© 2022 AFP

Quote: Chinese booster rocket returns to Earth unchecked (2022, July 31) recovered July 31, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-07-chinese-booster-rocket-uncontroll-earth.html

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