The debris from the Chinese rocket falls back to Earth

The debris from the Chinese rocket falls back to Earth

The debris from the Chinese rocket falls back to Earth

Chinese rocket debris crashed to Earth in the Indian and Pacific oceans, US and Chinese officials say.

The Chinese space agency said most of the Long March 5 remains burned in the atmosphere, identifying the Sulu Sea in the Pacific as a place of reentry.

Previously, space experts had said that the likelihood of the rocket landing in a populated area was extremely low.

The uncontrolled return of the rocket’s central stage has raised questions about the responsibility of space junk.

Previously, NASA asked the Chinese space agency to design rockets to disintegrate into smaller pieces upon reentry, as is the international norm.

In a tweet, the US Space Command said Long March 5 “re-entered the Indian Ocean at around 10:45 am MDT. [16:45 GMT] the 7/30 “.

He directed his readers to the Chinese authorities for more details.

Meanwhile, the Chinese space agency has provided reentry coordinates such as 119 degrees east longitude and 9.1 degrees north latitude. This corresponds to an area in the Sulu Sea, east of the Philippine island of Palawan in the North Pacific.

Recent rockets headed for the unfinished Chinese space station, known as Tiangong, lack the capability of controlled reentry.

The last launch was last Sunday, when the Long March 5 rocket carried a laboratory module to Tiangong station. The Chinese government said Wednesday that the rocket’s reentry would pose little risk to anyone on land as it would most likely land at sea.

However, there was a possibility that pieces of the rocket would land on a populated area, as happened in May 2020 when properties in Cote d’Ivoire were damaged.

Before crashing, the empty rocket’s body was in an elliptical orbit around the Earth, where it was dragged into an uncontrolled reentry.

Designing objects to disintegrate upon atmospheric reentry is becoming a priority for satellite operators. It is made in part using materials that have low melting point temperatures, such as aluminum.

In the case of rockets, this can be expensive, as historically the materials used for fuel housing, such as titanium, require very high temperatures to burn. The size of such objects is also an issue, especially in the case of the Long March 5, which weighs over 25 tons.

Rocket along March 5th

Long rocket on March 5 before takeoff in May 2021

The same Long March 5 configuration has been launched twice before, once in May 2020 and again in May 2021, carrying several elements of Tiangong Station.

On both occasions, debris from the rocket’s “central stage” was dumped on Earth, in the Ivory Coast and in the Indian Ocean. These followed a prototype that crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 2018.

None of these incidents resulted in injuries, but it garnered criticism from a number of space agencies. On Tuesday, China’s state-owned Global Times newspaper accused Western media of a US-led smear campaign against the long March 5.

This latest launch brought the second of three modules to the Chinese space station. The 17.9 m long Wentian laboratory module will be the first of two laboratories to join the station. China began building the space station in April 2021 with the launch of the Tianhe module, the main residential district.

China hopes Tiangong will be complete by the end of 2022.

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