A Chinese booster rocket made an uncontrolled return to Earth on Saturday, US Defense Department officials said, as they reprimanded Beijing for not sharing information on the potentially dangerous object’s descent.
US Space Command confirmed that the Long March 5B rocket re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean on Saturday, but sent any questions about possible debris dispersion and impact location to China.
The Long March 5B rocket was used last Sunday to launch an unmanned spacecraft called Ventian, carrying the second of three modules China needed to complete its new Tiangong space station.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson criticizes Beijing On Saturday, the failure to share the details of the rocket’s landing was irresponsible and risky.
“All space travel nations should follow established best practices, and do their part to share this type of information in advance,” Nelson tweeted, “especially on heavy-duty missions like the Long March 5B.” To allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk to vehicles. In which there is a great risk of loss of life and property.
“Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and ensuring the safety of people on Earth.”
Aerospace Corp., a government-funded nonprofit research center near Los Angeles, said it was reckless to allow the rocket’s entire main-core stage – which weighs 22.5 tons – to return to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry.
Last week, analysts said the rocket body would disintegrate as it fell through the atmosphere, but it was large enough that many fragments could have escaped from the fire in rain debris over an area about 2,000 km (1,240 mi) long. . 70 km (44 mi) wide.
The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. China said earlier this week that it would track the debris closely but it did not pose any threat to anyone on the ground.
Pieces of another Chinese Long March 5B landed on the Ivory Coast in 2020, causing damage to several buildings in that West African country, although no casualties were reported.
The US and most other space-enthusiast nations typically go to the additional expense of designing their rockets to avoid large, uncontrolled re-entry – a largely observed NASA space station since Skylab Essentialism fell from orbit in 1979 and landed in Australia.
The Tiangong space station is one of the crown jewels of Beijing’s ambitious space program, which has landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon, and made China the third nation to put humans in orbit.
The new module piloted by the Long March 5B successfully docked with Tiangong’s core module on Monday and the three astronauts who have been in the main compartment since June successfully entered the new laboratory.
China has poured billions of dollars into space flight and exploration as it seeks to build a program that reflects its stature as a rising global power.
With Agence France-Press and Reuters