The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the core module of China's space station Tianhe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan province, China, on April 29. (REUTERS)
The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the core module of China's space station Tianhe, takes off from Wenchang Space Launch Centre in Hainan province, China, on April 29. (REUTERS)

Chinese rocket debris falls into Indian Ocean

The remains of a Chinese rocket crashed into the Indian Ocean on Sunday with much of the debris burning up during the re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, China’s space agency said
By Sutirtho Patranobis I Edited by Amit Chanda
PUBLISHED ON MAY 09, 2021 05:16 PM IST

The remains of a Chinese rocket crashed into the Indian Ocean on Sunday with much of the debris burning up during the re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere, China’s space agency said.

The coordinates, cited by the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) and shared by official news agency, Xinhua, pointed to the location of the impact near the Maldives islands.

“The debris of the last stage of the Long March-5B Y2 carrier rocket re-entered the atmosphere at 10.24 a.m. on Sunday (Beijing Time),” Xinhua reported, adding: “The vast majority of the device burned up during the re-entry, and the rest of the debris fell into a sea area with the centre at 2.65 degrees north latitude and 72.47 degrees east longitude.”

The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the Tianhe module, the first and core module for the construction of China’s space station, launched from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan on April 29.

The re-entry of the debris of the Chinese rocket into the earth’s atmosphere drew strong criticism from Nasa, which said China was failing to “meet responsible standards”.

“Spacefaring nations must minimise the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximise transparency regarding those operations,” Nasa administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement released on the space agency’s website on Sunday.

“China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” he added.

Chinese state media dismissed the criticism, saying the so-called “uncontrolled re-entry” of China’s rocket debris a groundless, false accusation.

Quoting observers, the Global Times said it is “completely normal for rocket debris to return to Earth and has been a common practice carried out by global participants in the aerospace field, including China and the US”.

“It is common practice across the world for upper stages of rockets to burn up while reentering the atmosphere,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, told a regular media briefing on May 7.

“To my knowledge, the upper stage of this rocket has been deactivated, which means most of its parts will burn up upon re-entry, making the likelihood of damage to aviation or ground facilities and activities extremely low,” Wang said at the time.

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