Another out-of-control Chinese rocket falls from Space, crashes in Pacific Ocean

US and European space officials condemn China’s most recent massive rocket debris accident

According to a tweet from the United States Space Command, a 23-ton piece of Chinese rocket debris has retreated to Earth and entered the Pacific Ocean.

“At 4:01 am MDT/10:01 UTC on November 4th, #USSPACECOM can certify that the People’s Republic of China Long March 5B #CZ5B rocket re-entered the atmosphere over the south-central Pacific Ocean. We again point you to the #PRC for information on the impact site of the uncontrolled re-entry “Tweeted by US Space Command. A short while later, on November 4 at 4:06 am MDT/10:06 UTC, the 11th Combatant Command of the United States Department of Defense announced on Twitter that the Chinese Long March 5B rocket “exited the #USSPACECOM Area of Responsibility over the Northeast Pacific Ocean area.”

This is China’s most recent game of heavenly roulette, according to The New York Times, including an intentional uncontrolled atmospheric re-entry.

By design, the rocket stage did not have a method to direct it to a location on Earth that was remote from humans. This is a Chinese rocket’s fourth Earth-directed strike. China’s rocket has previously re-entered the earth three times, in 2020, 2021, and 2022.

According to The New York Times, China launched a Long March 5B rocket earlier this year, one of the most powerful rockets currently in use, on Monday to transfer the third and final module of its Tiangong space station, the mainstay of a space program that is second only to NASA’s in terms of technical complexity.

China has consistently bet successfully that the rocket’s components wouldn’t harm people on the ground. However, despite the fact that there were no initial indications of damage, Friday’s re-entry did create a disturbance, including the closing of Spanish airspace, which resulted in the morning delays of hundreds of flights. It is anticipated that a rocket of the same type will be employed at least once more, in 2023.

The four rocket launches have drawn criticism from other space organizations and specialists. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson criticized China in a statement for not adopting additional safety measures, as he had done for previous missions in April 2021 and July of this year.

Chinese Rocket
A Long March 5B rocket lifts off from the Wenchang launch site in China on 5 May 2020 [STR/AFP/Getty Images]

According to Nelson, who was reported by The New York Times as stating, “It is essential that all spacefaring countries remain accountable and transparent in their space operations and follow recognized best practices, particularly for the uncontrolled re-entry of a massive rocket body debris — debris that might very well result in catastrophic damage or loss of life.

According to information provided by the China Manned Space Agency, China successfully launched the 23-ton Long March-5B Y3 carrier rocket that was carrying Wentian on July 24. The launch took place at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site located on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan (CMSA).

According to the United States Space Command, fragments from a huge Chinese rocket re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean around 12:45 p.m. Eastern Time, only a few days after liftoff.

“It has been confirmed by USSPACECOM that a Long March 5B (CZ-5B) rocket from the People’s Republic of China re-entered over the Indian Ocean at about 10:45 am MDT on July 30. 

According to CNN’s reporting, the rocket has been hurtling into Earth’s atmosphere since then, making this the third time China has been accused of mishandling space debris from a rocket stage it launched.

Since then, space watchers have been monitoring the rocket’s trajectory as it passed each stage in Earth’s orbit due to the remote potential that it would touch down over a populated region.

Source: Novinite

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Written by Alex Bruno

Freelance space writer Alex Bruno specializes in covering China's quickly expanding space industry. In 2021, he started writing for SpaceXMania. He also contributes to publications including SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, and New Scientist. When Alex was a small child, he first experienced the space bug after seeing Voyager photographs of alien planets in our solar system. When not in space, Alex likes to go trail jogging in the Finnish countryside.

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