Remains of a huge Chinese rocket descending uncontrollably back to Earth it re-entered the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean at approximately 12:45 p.m. ET on Saturday, the US Space Command. said On twitter.
China’s 23-ton Long March 5B rocket, which delivered a new module to its space station, took off from Hainan Island at 2:22 p.m. local time on Sunday, July 24, and the module successfully docked with China’s orbital outpost. . Since then, the rocket had been on an uncontrolled descent into Earth’s atmosphere, marking the third time China has been accused of not properly handling space debris from its rocket stage.
“No other country leaves these 20-ton things in orbit to re-enter in an uncontrolled way,” Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Saturday afternoon.
In a Saturday statement on Twitter, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson wrote China “did not share specific information about the trajectory” when the rocket fell to Earth.
“All spacefaring nations must follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of information in advance to enable reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy vehicles, such as Long March 5B, which they carry a significant risk of loss of life and property,” Nelson said.
“Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and to ensuring the safety of people here on Earth,” he added.
In a statement, China’s Manned Space Agency said debris from the rocket re-entered the atmosphere around 12:55 a.m. Beijing time Sunday, or around 12:55 p.m. ET Saturday.
The agency added that most of the wreckage was burned during the re-entry process over the Sulu Sea, which lies between the island of Borneo and the Philippines.
“What we really want to know is if any pieces actually ended up on the ground,” McDowell told CNN. “Reports may take a little longer to filter through.”
Video posted online appears to show what experts believe to be footage of the booster rocket burning up in the atmosphere, but CNN cannot confirm its veracity.
Vanessa Julan, a resident of Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, shared a video with CNN showing what appears to be burning rocket debris.
She told CNN that she shot the footage at around 12:50 a.m. local time, which is the same time in Beijing.