A component of a Chinese space agency rocket returned to Earth’s atmosphere over the Maldives in the Indian Ocean on Sunday. Most burned on reentry, according to the space agency.
“Statistically, a re-entry into the ocean was always the most likely. It looks like China won its bet… But it was still reckless, ”Harvard astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell, who tracked down the rocket chunk, wrote on Twitter.
Social media users reported sightings of the rocket from Jordan, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Dozens of people shared images of the debris falling as dawn broke in the Middle East.
I suspect this is the best video of the Chinese rocket going through the atmosphere that you will see today. pic.twitter.com/7yqnXEdRAd
– Ángel Martín Gómez (@angelmartin_nc) May 9, 2021
Generally, the rocket phases that are released in the launch process return to the atmosphere shortly thereafter, usually over water, and fail to enter orbit.
China’s official Xinhua news agency cleared an earlier dispatch on Sunday and said the re-entry had occurred at 10:24 a.m. Beijing time. “The vast majority of items burned unrecognizable during the reentry progress,” the agenda said.
#The last Fell the #Chinese rocket. They report that the remains of the structure eventually found their way into the Arabian Sea. On # Oman They recorded these images, recently: pic.twitter.com/qmHmkGfTPK
– LaHistoria (@lahistoriaec) May 9, 2021
However, US Senator Bill Nelson, NASA administrator, issued a statement in which he said that “it is clear that China is not meeting the standards of responsibility for its space debris.”
The 30-meter (100-foot) thruster was one of the largest space debris to fall to Earth. The Chinese space program, closely linked to the Army, has not clarified why it sent the main component of the rocket into space instead of allowing it to fall back to Earth shortly after separating from its cargo, as is usually done in operations of this kind.
— NTN24 Venezuela (@NTN24ve) May 9, 2021
The Long March 5B rocket launched into orbit on April 29 the main module of the Tianhe, or Celestial Harmony, China’s first permanent space station. Beijing plans to make 10 more launches to put new components of its space station into orbit.
Last May, an 18-ton rocket fell to the ground, the largest fragment of a spacecraft to fall uncontrollably since the former Soviet space station Salyut 7 in 1991.
– La Nación newspaper (@LaNacionPy) May 8, 2021
China’s first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed in the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it had lost control of the post. In 2019, the space agency controlled the atmospheric demolition of its second station, Tiangong-2.
In March, debris from a Falcon 9 rocket launched by the US aeronautical company Space X fell on Washington and the Oregon coast.
– Manuel (@manueldevjour) May 9, 2021
China was heavily criticized in January 2007 for destroying a decommissioned meteorological satellite with a missile, creating a large amount of space debris that endangered other satellites and spacecraft.
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Video provided by El Espectador