Debris from an uncontrolled Chinese rocket falls into the Southeast Asian Sea

Debris from the giant Chinese rocket re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean at 12:45 p.m. ET. US Space Command.

In an update Posted on social networking site WeiboChina’s manned space agency said most of the debris had burned up as it re-entered the Sulu Sea, a body of water between the island of Borneo and the Philippines.

However small, the possibility that debris from the rocket could hit a populated area led people around the world to monitor its path for days.

NASA’s administrator, Bill Nelson, issued a rebuke on Saturday, saying China “did not share specific trajectory information as the Long March 5B rocket came back down to Earth.” All countries should share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy-lift vehicles such as the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property.

Mr. Rocket Nelson, in his statement from last Sunday’s launch, mentioned orbiting a laboratory module attached to China’s Tiangong space station. Usually, large booster stages of rockets return to Earth immediately after landing. But Long March 5B’s 23-ton center stage is attached to the space station section all the way to orbit.

Due to the friction caused by the rocket rubbing against the air at the top of the atmosphere, it quickly began to lose altitude, causing it to return to Earth in what is known as an “uncontrolled re-entry”. In recent days, space observers have predicted possible re-entries for much of the planet. By the last day, the forecast had become more accurate, but forecasters weren’t sure whether it would land in the Indian Ocean, off Mexico or in the Atlantic.

People in Malaysia’s Sarawak state on the island of Borneo reported seeing rocket wreckage on social media, with many initially believing it to be pyrotechnics. Burnout or A comet.

This is the third flight of China’s largest rocket, the Long March 5B. The country’s space program needed such a large, powerful vehicle to carry components to orbit connecting its space station.

On its first test flight in 2020, it lifted a reusable astronaut capsule into orbit without any crew. The booster fell on villages in Ivory Coast, West Africa, causing some property damage but no injuries.

A second spacecraft crashed into the Indian Ocean last year carrying Tianhe, a key component of the new Tiangong space station. It added the lab module Vendian.

Long March 5B consisted of several pieces. Shortly after launch, four side boosters fell off, landing harmlessly in the Pacific Ocean. (Disposing of used, unwanted rocket fragments at sea is a common practice.) But the core booster stage — a 23-ton, 10-story cylinder empty — carried the Wentian module into orbit.

The installation of the laboratory advances the progress of a second outpost in orbit, where humanity can carry out scientific research in a microgravity environment.

China plans to operate the new Tiangong station for at least a decade and is inviting other countries to participate. Tiangong is smaller than the aging International Space Station, which is slated to retire in 2030 according to NASA’s current plans, although Russia has given conflicting indications about how long it will continue to participate.

In recent decades, rocket stages that reach orbit typically re-fire the engine after releasing their payloads, allowing them to exit orbit and aim for an unoccupied area such as the middle of the ocean.

Typically 20 percent to 40 percent of a rocket or satellite will survive, which suggests that a 10,000 to 20,000 pound Chinese booster will reach the Earth’s surface.

Another lab module will be launched using the same rocket in October, completing the construction of the space station. The final mission for the rocket is planned for 2023, carrying an orbiting space telescope.

Experts say the rocket’s designers had alternatives to his approach. They could have stopped the booster firing before reaching orbit. It will immediately return to Earth in the Pacific. But then they would have to reroute the propulsion systems in the space station module to orbit.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass., who tracks space debris, suggested the Chinese may have used a trick similar to what NASA engineers did with the Saturn 1b rocket 40 years ago. The Saturn 1B’s second stage was larger and, like the Long March 5B booster, lacked thrusters to control re-entry.

“They did something really clever in getting the fuel out,” Dr McDowell said. “They didn’t really have the ignition of a rocket engine, but they ejected fuel in a way that lowered perigee into the atmosphere.”

Li You contributed to the research.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.