NASA Admin Scolds China After Out-of-Control Rocket Lands in Indian Ocean
After days of fretting over when and where an out-of-control Chinese rocket would land as it fell back to Earth, China announced early Sunday that the rocket had landed in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.
Although it was unclear whether the debris had caused any damage, NASA sharply scolded China for failing to be responsible for its space debris.
In a statement released on Sunday after the debris landed, NASA administrator Bill Nelson said that spacefaring nations had to minimize the risks to people and property on Earth when it comes to re-entries of space objects.
“It is critical that China and all spacefaring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.”Experts had been watching the rocket closely in recent days, concerned over the possibility, albeit very small, of the debris falling over inhabited areas.
Nonetheless, the odds were always strongly leaning towards the debris falling into an ocean, which covers the majority of Earth, or onto uninhabited areas.
China’s Manned Space Agency said in a statement on Sunday, which can only be viewed on the Wayback Machine because the website was down at the time of publication, that the vast majority of the Long March 5B burned up during reentry.
China launched the Long March 5B at the end of April as a part of its ambitious project to create its own space station, which will be named Tiangong.
If everything goes as planned, Tianhe will be the part of the station that will house China’s astronauts, who will stay in the station for periods of up to half a year.
After releasing the Tianhe module, China chose not to fire the engine of the Long March 5B so that it could drop out of orbit and eventually land in an unoccupied area.
That incident resulted in debris from the rocket damaging several buildings on the Ivory Coast, although there were thankfully no reported casualties.