After days of fretting about when and where an out-of-control Chinese rocket landed when it fell to Earth, China has announced the first Sunday the rocket landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives. Even thoughIt was unclear if the the debris had caused it damage, NASA has abruptly reprimanded China for not being responsible for its space debris.
In a statement released Sunday after landing the debris, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said space nations should minimize risks to people and property on Earth when it comes to releasing space objects. Nelson also argued that it was important to maximize transparency regarding these returns. In this case, space debris it consisted of the core stage of a Long March 5B rocket, which was 30 meters long and 98 meters wide.
With a weight of 23 tons, the core stage is one of the largest man-made objects to ever make an uncontrolled return.
“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards in terms of its space debris,” Nelson said. “It is critical that China and all space nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security and long-term durability of space activities.”
Experts had been looking at the gun closely in recent days, worried about the possibility, although very small, of debris falling on inhabited areas. However, the odds were still strongly inclined towards the debris falling into an ocean, which cover most of the Earth, or over uninhabited areas.
Manipulated Space Agency of China he said in a statement Sunday, which can only be seen on the Wayback car because the website was down at the time of publication, which the vast majority of Long March 5B burned during the re-entry.
China launched the Long March 5B at the end of April as part of his ambitious project to create his own space station, which will be called Tiangong. The Long March 5B carried the 55-foot (16-meter) Tianhe, or Harmony of the Skies, which is the main module of the station. If all goes as planned, Tianhe will the part of the station that welcomes China’s astronauts, which will remain at the station for maximum periods of half a year.
The launch of Tianhe was the first of 11 planned launches needed to make Tiangong operational by the end of 2022.
So how do we end up with an uncontrolled Long March 5B? In this case, the core stage of the Long March 5B carried and released the Tianhe module into orbit. (Several smaller boosters fell shortly after launch and landed safely in the Pacific Ocean) After releasing the Tianhe module, China has chosen not to fire the Long March 5B engine so it can leave orbit and eventually land in an unoccupied area. This caused the heart stage to make an uncontrolled return.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Chinese Long March 5B make an uncontrolled return. Last year, a Long March 5B carrying a prototype of China’s next generation equipment capsule the same thing happened. That incident led to rock debris damaging several buildings in Côte d’Ivoire, although fortunately there were no reported casualties.
Considering China’s space station project, more launches are planned for the Long March 5B. So, there is a chance that this could happen again. It is also possible that future uncontrolled entry could cause serious damage to the Earth. The possibility not only justifies NASA’s statement, but makes it necessary.
“An ocean return was always statistically thand more likely. It looks like China has won its bet (unless we have news of debris in the Maldives). But he was always reckless. ” he said Jonathan McDowell, astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.