Chinese rocket disintegrates out of orbit control in Indian Ocean under US criticism

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A segment of the Chinese space rocket launched last Sunday (24) made an uncontrolled return to Earth’s atmosphere on Saturday (30) and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean, the Chinese space agency confirmed on Sunday (31), with US officials accusing Beijing not to share its information about this potentially dangerous descent.

In a statement published on its official WeChat profile, the Chinese Space Agency provided the coordinates of the impact: in the Sulu Sea, about 57 km off the east coast of the island of Palawan in the Philippines.

“Most of its devices were destroyed” during the descent, the agency said of the rocket, used to launch the second of three modules China needs to complete its new Tiangong space station, which is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year. .

The return to the atmosphere of the Chinese rocket had been announced several hours earlier by the US army.

“Space Force Command confirms that the People’s Republic of China’s Long March-5B rocket re-entered the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean on July 30,” the US military tweeted.

The Malaysian space agency said, in turn, that it detected debris from the rocket burning before it fell into the Sulu Sea, northeast of the island of Borneo.

“Rocket debris caught fire as it entered terrestrial airspace and burning debris also passed through Malaysian airspace and could be detected in several areas, including crossing the airspace around the state of Sarawak,” he said.

uncontrolled rocket

China’s Long March-5B rocket was not designed to control its descent from orbit, which, like previous launches, has drawn criticism.

China “did not give precise information about the trajectory of its Long March-5B rocket,” tweeted NASA chief Bill Nelson on Saturday.

“All nations that carry out space activities must adhere to best practices” because falling objects of this size “represent significant risks of causing human and material losses”, he added, stressing that information sharing is “essential” for “responsible use”. from space and to keep people safe on Earth”.

Entry into the atmosphere releases immense heat and friction, causing the segments to burn and disintegrate. But larger ships, like the Long March-5B, may not be completely destroyed. Their debris can then land on the Earth’s surface and cause damage and casualties, even though this risk is low, with the planet being covered with 70% water.

In 2020, debris from another Long March rocket fell on villages in Ivory Coast, causing damage but no injuries. The Asian giant has been investing billions of dollars for several decades in its space program. The Tiangong space station is one of the “treasures” of this program.

China sent its first astronaut into space in 2003. In early 2019, it landed a device on the far side of the Moon, a world first. In 2021, it landed a small robot on Mars and plans to send men to the Moon by 2030.

With information from AFP

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