Large Chinese rocket segment collapses over the Indian Ocean

Most of China’s Long March 5 rocket seen here at the time of its launch on April 29, 2021 re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and collapsed over the Indian Ocean.

Chinese space agencies said most of China’s rockets re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and collapsed over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, following enthusiastic speculation about where an 18-ton object would fall. ..

Beijing officials said there was little risk from the free-fall segment of the Long March 5 rocket, which launched the first module of China’s new space station into Earth orbit on April 29.

However, the US space agency NASA and some experts said China acted irresponsibly because uncontrolled re-entry of such large objects risked damage and casualties.

“After surveillance and analysis, at 10:24 (0224 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the debris of the final stage of the Long March 5BYao-2 rocket re-entered the atmosphere,” said the China Manned Space Engineering Department. In the statement, we provide the coordinates of a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.

He added that most of the segments collapsed and were destroyed during the descent.

The US space force said the rocket “re-entered the Arabian Peninsula at 10:15 pm EST (0215 Greenwich Mean Time) on May 8.”

“It is unknown whether the debris affected the land and water.”

Space-Track, a surveillance service that uses US military data, said the location in Saudi Arabia was the last place the US system recorded it.

China has poured billions of dollars into an ambitious space program

China has poured billions of dollars into an ambitious space program

“Operators have confirmed that the rocket has actually entered the Indian Ocean north of the Maldives,” tweeted.

Given that 70% of the planet is covered with water, the descent of this segment was in line with expert predictions that debris would have scattered into the ocean.

Since it was an uncontrolled descent, there was widespread public interest and speculation about where the debris would land.

Space authorities in the United States and Europe were among those who tried to track the rocket and predict its re-entry.

Accusation of negligence

When an object enters the atmosphere, it creates a huge amount of heat and friction that can burn it out and collapse. However, something big like Long March 5 may not be completely destroyed.

Their debris can land on the surface of the planet, the risk is low, but it can cause damage and casualties.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said China

NASA administrator Bill Nelson said China “does not meet responsible standards for space debris.”

Last year, debris from another Chinese Long March rocket fell into the village of Côte d’Ivoire, causing structural damage, but no injuries or deaths.

According to data from Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell, and what came down on Sunday, the fourth-largest object in history has been linked to an uncontrollable re-entry.

Such re-entry uncertainties and risks have led to accusations that Beijing has acted irresponsibly.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggested last week that China was negligent, and NASA administrator Bill Nelson repeated it after re-entry on Sunday.

“Space-flighting nations need to minimize the risk to people and property on Earth from re-entry of space objects and maximize their operational transparency,” Nelson said in a statement. Stated.

“It is clear that China does not meet the responsible standards for space debris.”

Chinese space station

Fact file about China’s future space station scheduled for operation by 2022

China’s ambition for space

To avoid such a scenario, some experts recommend redesigning the Long March 5 rocket, which does not have a controlled descent.

“Re-entry into the ocean has always been statistically most likely,” McDowell tweeted.

“China seems to have won the bet (unless there is news of debris in the Maldives), but it was still reckless.”

However, Chinese authorities have downplayed the risks.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said on Friday that “it is very unlikely to cause any harm to aviation activities or (people or activities) on the ground.”

Beijing has invested billions of dollars in space exploration to enhance its global position and technological capabilities.

The launch of the first module of the space station by the Long March rocket launched on Sunday was a milestone in an ambitious plan to establish a permanent human presence in space.

Chinese rocket falling to Earth on uncontrolled re-entry

© 2021 AFP

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Large Chinese rocket segment collapses over the Indian Ocean

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