Debris from China’s Long March 5B rocket has fallen into the Indian Ocean, U.S. Space Command confirmed in a tweet Saturday.
The debris fell at approximately 10:45 a.m. MDT, officials said, refusing to provide further details and referring all other questions to the People’s Republic of China.
“[We] can confirm the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Long March 5B (CZ-5B) re-entered over the Indian Ocean at approx 10:45 am MDT on 7/30,” the tweet read. “We refer you to the #PRC for further details on the reentry’s technical aspects such as potential debris dispersal+ impact location.”
China has yet to make a statement on the matter. Its procedure has drawn criticism from those in the aerospace industry.
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“The People’s Republic of China did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson tweeted Saturday. “All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices, and do their part to share this type of information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy-lift vehicles, like the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property.”
“Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensure the safety of people here on Earth,” he said.
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While astronomer Jonathan McDowell noted the rocket stage was not “actively deorbited,” other astronomers anticipated the effects would remain minimal.
China successfully docked its Wentian space station module after the 21-ton Long March 5B rocket sent it to space, marking the third time China has sent rocket debris free falling down to Earth, with one rocket in 2021 also ending up in the Indian Ocean and another rocket in 2020 falling into the Atlantic Ocean.