Chinese rocket debris crashes into Earth’s atmosphere
A Chinese rocket booster that helped launch part of a space station into orbit plummeted to Earth Saturday over Southeast Asia, US Space Command confirmed.
Officials believe the 25-ton debris re-entered over the Indian Ocean at around 10:45 am MDT.
Witnesses in Malaysia reported seeing bright objects in the sky that resembled meteors but said it was likely debris.
Experts at Aerospace Corporation closely tracked the booster and believe the vast majority of the rocket burned up in the atmosphere but said it was possible that as much as 20 to 40 percent of the object could have remained intact until it reached the ground.
So far, there have been no reports of damage or any injuries from any of the island nations that surround the eastern Indian Ocean.
The sights are similar to China’s rocket booster returns in 2020 and 2021 when debris landed over Africa and the Indian Ocean.
The Long March-5B rocket was launched from China on July 24 and delivered a laboratory module for its new Tiangong Space Station, before falling back towards Earth.
The United States and other counties have criticized China for its rocket debris return events.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson blasted the People’s Republic of China in a statement over the country’s lack of transparency over the potentially catastrophic event.
“The People’s Republic of China did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth. All spacefaring 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. Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensure the safety of people here on Earth,” Nelson said.
As of Saturday evening, Chinese officials had not publicly commented on the reentry.