Chinese rocket falls to earth, NASA says Beijing has not shared information

Chinese rocket falls to earth, NASA says Beijing has not shared information

A Long March-5B Y3 rocket carrying the Wentian laboratory module for China’s under-construction space station launches from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan province, China, July 24, 2022. China Daily via REUTERS/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) – A Chinese missile fell back to earth over the Indian Ocean on Saturday, but NASA said Beijing has not shared the “specific trajectory information” needed to know where possible debris is could fall.

U.S. Space Command said the Long March 5B rocket reentered over the Indian Ocean around 12:45 p.m. EDT (1645 GMT) on Saturday, but cited questions about “technical aspects of reentry, such as:

“All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and do their part in sharing this type of information in advance to enable reliable predictions of the potential risk of debris impact,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This is critical to the responsible use of space and to keeping people safe here on Earth.”

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Social media users in Malaysia posted a video of what appeared to be rocket debris.

Aerospace Corp, a government-funded nonprofit research center near Los Angeles, said it was reckless to have the rocket’s entire main core stage – which weighs 22.5 tons (about 48,500 pounds) – return to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry .

Earlier this week, analysts said the rocket body would disintegrate if it fell through the atmosphere, but is large enough that numerous chunks are likely to survive fiery re-entry into rain debris over an area about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) long and about 70 km become (44 miles) wide.

The Chinese embassy in Washington initially did not comment. China earlier this week said it would be tracking the debris closely but said it posed little risk to anyone on the ground.

The Long March 5B launched on July 24 to deliver a laboratory module to China’s new orbiting space station under construction, marking the third flight of China’s most powerful rocket since its first launch in 2020. read more

Fragments of another Chinese Long March 5B landed in Ivory Coast in 2020, damaging multiple buildings in that West African nation, although no injuries were reported.

In contrast, he said, the United States and most other spacefaring nations generally incur the added expense of designing their rockets to avoid large, uncontrolled re-entry — a necessity largely met since much of NASA’s Skylab space station crashed into orbit in 1979 and landed in Australia.

Last year, NASA and others accused China of being opaque after the Beijing government remained silent about the estimated debris trajectory or re-entry window of their final Long March rocket flight in May 2021. Read more

Debris from this flight eventually landed harmlessly in the Indian Ocean.

(The story is refiled to remove the extra word “said” in paragraph 2.)

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Reporting by David Shepardson Edited by Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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