The world has been watching the sky this week when a 30-meter-high Chinese rocket fell back to Earth on an uncontrolled return journey. The rocket debris has now landed in the Indian Ocean and arrived late on Saturday evening, May 9, with no reports of anyone being injured.
While the rocket debris was unlikely to harm anyone, the incident received public attention due to difficulties in predicting where and when the debris would land. A similar return took place at Skylab Space Station in 1979, leading to the spread of rubbish bins to parts of Australia and which attracted similar media interest.
The Chinese Space Agency announced in a brief statement that the rocket, long March 5B, returned to the atmosphere at 19:24 PT and was largely destroyed. Rocket debris fell into the Indian Ocean.
While it is common for rocket parts to fall to the ground, this event was unusual because of the part involved in the rocket. Like SpaceNews explains if a reusable rocket, such as the SpaceX Falcon 9, is launched, the first stage of the rocket is thrown before the rocket reaches its orbit and falls into a predetermined (and uninhabited) area. The smaller upper phase then continues into orbit.
But in the case of this long March 5B, its first and upper stages reached orbit. This meant that when they returned to the atmosphere, more debris was generated when parts of the rocket constructed of heat-resistant materials could survive the return migration and fall to the ground.
Although the Chinese authorities slowly acknowledged the issue of this rocket, NASA officials condemned the country’s approach space debris.
“Countries embarking on space must minimize the risks to humans and property on Earth from the return of Earth’s space objects and maximize the transparency of these operations,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. opinion today. “It is clear that China does not meet responsible standards for space debris. It is critical that China and all spacecraft states and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability and sustainability of outer space operations.”