The debris of a chinese rocket have made a re-entry uncontrolled in the Earth’s atmosphere over Southeast Asia. Most of the debris would have burned up in the atmosphere when it fell to Earth and there are no reports of injuries from the debris, but the incident has been condemned by space officials, including the space administrator. POT, Bill Nelson.
“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) did not share specific information about the trajectory when its Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” Nelson said in a statement. “All space nations must follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance to enable reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy vehicles, such as the Long March 5B, which carry a risk. significant loss of life and property. Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensuring the safety of people here on Earth.”
The debris was from a Long March 5B rocket that was used to launch a module to China’s new space station on Sunday, July 24. The first stage of this rocket entered the atmosphere on Saturday, July 30, reported SpaceNews.
Reentry looks to have been observed from Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia. Debris would land downrange in northern Borneo, possibly Brunei. [corrected] https://t.co/sX6m1XMYoO
— Jonathan McDowell (@planet4589) July 30, 2022
This is not the first time debris from a Chinese mission has made an uncontrolled re-entry. A similar incident occurred in May last year when debris from another Long March rocket fell into the Indian Ocean.
Typically, a rocket will use its first stage, or booster, to provide fuel to carry the rocket through Earth’s atmosphere. This first stage will be jettisoned before the rocket reaches orbit and returns to Earth in a predictable way, or, in the case of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 reusable boosters, captured and used again. The second stage of the rocket will continue in orbit.
In the case of the Chinese Long March rockets this weekend and last May, both the first and second stages entered orbit. The first stage then fell back to Earth in an unpredictable way called uncontrolled reentry. This is more dangerous and it is impossible to predict where the debris will fall and if it could threaten people or infrastructure.
There is growing public pressure on space nations to take responsibility for the debris they cause and ensure that it poses no threat to anyone.