Chinese rocket crashes to Earth, NASA says Beijing does not share information

Chinese rocket crashes to Earth, NASA says Beijing does not share information
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The Long March-5B Y3 rocket carrying the Wentian laboratory module for China’s space station under construction takes off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan province, China, July 24, 2022. China Daily via REUTERS/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, July 30 (Reuters) – A Chinese rocket crashed to Earth over the Indian Ocean on Saturday, but NASA said Beijing did not share the “specific orbital information” needed to know where possible debris might fall.

The U.S. Space Command said the Long March 5B rocket re-entered over the Indian Ocean at about 12:45 a.m. EDT on Saturday (1645 GMT), but raised questions about “technical aspects of reentry, such as possible debris spawn impact location” in China.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, “All spacefaring countries should follow established best practices and do their part to share such information in advance to allow reliable estimates of potential debris impact risk.” Said. “Doing so is critical to responsible use of space and ensuring the safety of people around the world.”

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Social media users in Malaysia posted a video that looked like rocket debris.

Aerospace Corp, a government-funded nonprofit research center near Los Angeles, said it was reckless to allow the entire main core stage of the rocket, weighing 22.5 tons (about 48,500 lb), to return to Earth in an uncontrolled re-entry.

Earlier this week, analysts said the rocket body would disintegrate as it reentered the atmosphere, but multiple fragments were large enough to survive a fiery reentry into a hail of debris about 2,000 km (1,240 miles) long and about 70 km across. (44 miles) wide.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not immediately comment. China said earlier this week that it will closely monitor the wreckage, but poses little risk to anyone on the ground.

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

Parts of another Chinese Long March 5B landed in Ivory Coast in 2020 and damaged several buildings in this West African country, but no injuries were reported.

In contrast, the United States and many other space travel nations often incur the additional expense of designing their rockets to prevent large, uncontrolled reentries – a necessity that has been largely observed since large parts of NASA space station Skylab crashed. It went into orbit in 1979 and landed in Australia.

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

The debris from this flight landed harmlessly in the Indian Ocean.

(Story re-edited to remove the extra word ‘said’ in the 2nd paragraph.

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Reporting Editing by David Shepardson by Alistair Bell

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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