China: Long March-5B rocket debris falls back to Earth, lands in ocean

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China says its most powerful rocket has crashed after NASA criticized Beijing for failing to share critical data about its trajectory.

The Long March-5B rocket, weighing more than 1.8 million pounds, blasted off from the Wenchang Space Base on July 24 — carrying another module to Tiangong, China’s first permanent space station, which is under construction.

China’s manned space agency said in a statement on its official Weibo social media account on Sunday that “most” of the rocket’s debris burned up during re-entry into the atmosphere around 12:55 a.m.

The rest landed in the ocean at 119.0° East and 9.1° North. These coordinates are in the waters off the island of Palawan, southeast of the Philippine city of Puerto Princesa. China’s statement did not say whether any debris landed.

experts They expressed concern over the massive size of the 176-foot rocket and the risky design of its launch process Its debris may not burn up as it re-enters Earth’s atmosphere. The rocket dumped its empty 23-ton first stage into orbit, circling the planet for days as it approached landing on a difficult and unpredictable flight path.

Debris from China’s rocket is launched to crash-land — and no one knows where

The U.S. said China was taking a significant risk by allowing the rocket to fall uncontrolled to Earth without advising it of its likely trajectory.

“The People’s Republic of China did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth” Tweeted NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on Saturday.

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“All spaceflight nations should follow established best practices and share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy-lift vehicles such as the Long March 5B, which pose a significant risk of loss of life and property,” he said. He continued. “Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensuring the safety of people on Earth.

Ahead of the rocket’s re-entry, China sought to allay fears that the debris could pose a danger to civilians, predicting that fragments from the core stage could end up in the ocean.

The US has long been critical of China when it comes to space debris. “It is clear that China has failed to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.” Read a report It was released by NASA earlier this year.

China’s position that the odds of the debris causing serious damage are small is supported by some experts. The chances of someone being killed or injured by parts of a rocket over the next decade are about 1 in 10. Article Published this month in the journal Nature Astronomy. But many believe launch designs like the Long March 5B are an unnecessary risk.

Last week, China’s state-run newspaper Global Times accused the West of trying to discredit its space efforts by showing “sour grapes”. Article He accused the US of leading a “smear campaign” against the “strong development of China’s space industry”.

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