Chinese rocket falls to Earth, NASA says Beijing didn’t share information

Chinese rocket falls to Earth, NASA says Beijing didn't share information
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A Long March-5B Y3 rocket, carrying the Wentian laboratory module for China’s space station under construction, lifts off from the Wenchang spacecraft launch site in Hainan province, China, 24 July 2022. China Daily via REUTERS/File photo

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WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) – A Chinese rocket fell to Earth on Saturday over the Indian Ocean, but NASA said Beijing had not shared the “specific trajectory information” needed to know where potential debris might fall.

The US Space Command said the Long March 5B rocket re-entered over the Indian Ocean at approximately 12:45 pm EDT on Saturday (16:45 GMT), but referred questions about “the technical aspects of re-entry, such as the possible location of the debris scattering impact” to China.

“All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information early to enable reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensuring the safety of people 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 unwise to allow the entire main stage of the rocket, which weighs 22.5 tons (about 48,500 pounds), to return to Earth. in an uncontrolled re-entry.

Earlier this week, analysts said the rocket body would disintegrate as it hurtled through the atmosphere, but it is large enough that numerous fragments will survive a flaming re-entry to rain down debris on an area of about 2,000 km (1,240 mi) long by about 70 km. (44 miles) wide.

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

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

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

Rather, he said, the United States and most other spacefaring nations generally incur the added expense of designing their rockets to prevent large, uncontrolled re-entries, an imperative seen largely since large portions of the space station NASA’s Skylab fell out of orbit in 1979 and landed in Australia.

Last year, NASA and others accused China of being opaque after the Beijing government remained silent on the estimated trajectory of the debris or the re-entry window for its last Long March rocket flight in May 2021. read more

Debris from that flight ended up landing harmlessly in the Indian Ocean.

(The story is re-filed to remove the extra word ‘said’ in paragraph 2)

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Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Alistair Bell

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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