US and Chinese officials say the debris of a Chinese Long March 5B missile has fallen over the Indo-Pacific.
The China National Space Administration said most of the debris of the Long March 5 rocket was uprooted and destroyed during the fall into the atmosphere, and said the Sulu Sea in the Pacific Ocean is where the debris fell to the Earth’s surface.
Earlier, space experts said that the chances of a rocket landing in a populated area are very low.
The uncontrolled landing of the rocket’s primary stage in the atmosphere raised questions about responsibility for space junk.
NASA (NASA) China’s National Space Administration has advocated in the past that its rockets be designed to decay into smaller pieces before they enter the atmosphere, as this is an international practice.
The US Space Command said in a tweet that Long March 5 was “on July 30 at approximately 10:45 North American Summer Time (MDT) (16:45 GMT).) over the Indian Ocean and back to Earth.”
A tweet referring readers to more details released by the Chinese authorities.
On the other hand, the landing site announced by the China National Space Administration is 119 degrees east longitude and 9.1 degrees north latitude in the surrounding waters. This is located in the Sulu Sea – east of the island of Palawan in the North Pacific Ocean.
China recently launched missiles at the Tiangong space station which are still unable to land in the atmosphere.
The last launch took place last Sunday (24 July), when a Long March 5 rocket carried an experimental module to the Tiangong Space Station. The Chinese government said, on Wednesday, that the risk to people on the ground as a result of the missile landing on the ground is low because it most likely fell into the ocean.
However, the possibility of missile debris falling in populated areas, such as the May 2020 incident that destroyed houses in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), remains.
Before falling, the hollow body of the rocket travels in an elliptical orbit around the Earth, and is gradually drawn to the Earth, and the process of entering the atmosphere will be out of control.
Designing how things fall apart upon re-entry has become a priority for satellite operators. Part of this is the use of materials with low melting points, such as aluminum.
For rockets, this approach can be costly because materials traditionally used to transport fuels, such as titanium, require very high temperatures to burn. The size of these objects is itself a problem, especially for a rocket like the Long March 5 that weighs more than 25 tons.
The same Long March 5 rocket has been launched twice in the past, once in May 2020 and another in May 2021, and carries various components from the Tiangong Space Station twice.
The remnants of the “core stage” of the two missiles were dumped on the ground in Cote d’Ivoire and the Indian Ocean. Earlier in 2018, another missile of this type landed in the Pacific Ocean.
No one was injured in these incidents, but it drew criticism from many space agencies. Chinese state mediaGlobal TimesAccusing the Western media of a smear campaign led by the United States.
In its most recent launch, the rocket carried the second of three modules from the Chinese space station into the sky. The experimental module Wentian is 17.9 meters long and is the first of two large experimental modules in orbit at this type of space station. China began construction of the space station in April 2021, when the first manned “Tianhe” main modules carried the basic modules.
China hopes that the Tiangong space station will be completed by the end of 2022.
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