World: Debris from China’s rocket booster falls to Earth

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Debris from a rocket that boosted part of China’s new space station into orbit has fallen into the sea in the Philippines, according to the Chinese government.

Most of the final stage of the Long March-5B rocket burned up after entering the atmosphere, the China Manned Space Agency reported on Saturday.

The agency said earlier the booster would be allowed to fall unguided.

The announcement gave no details of whether the remaining debris fell on land or sea, but said the “landing area” was at 119 degrees east longitude and 9.1 degrees north latitude. That is in waters southeast of the Philippine city of Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan.

China says closely tracking rocket debris hurtling towards Earth

  China says closely tracking rocket debris hurtling towards Earth Beijing says uncontrolled re-entry of rocket debris poses little risk to anyone on the ground.The Long March 5B rocket blasted off Sunday 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 maiden launch in 2020.

There was no immediate word from the Philippine authorities about whether anyone on the ground was affected.

Onlookers watch the launch of a rocket transporting China’s second module for its Tiangong space station from the Wenchang spaceport in southern China [File: CNS/AFP] © Provided by Al Jazeera Onlookers watch the launch of a rocket transporting China’s second module for its Tiangong space station from the Wenchang spaceport in southern China [File: CNS/AFP]

China has faced criticism for allowing rocket stages to fall to Earth uncontrolled twice before.

NASA accused Beijing last year of “failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris” after parts of a Chinese rocket landed in the Indian Ocean.

The country’s first space station, Tiangong-1, crashed into the Pacific Ocean in 2016 after Beijing confirmed it lost control. An 18-tonne rocket fell uncontrolled in May 2020.

Debris from Chinese rocket to fall back to Earth

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China also faced criticism after using a missile to destroy one of its defunct weather satellites in 2007, creating a field of debris that other governments said might jeopardise other satellites.

The July 24 launch of the Long March-5B, China’s most powerful rocket, carried the Wentian laboratory into orbit. It was attached on Monday to the Tianhe main module, where three astronauts live.

The remains of a separate cargo spacecraft that serviced the station fell into a predetermined area of the South Pacific after most of it burned up on re-entry, the government announced earlier.

China has poured billions of dollars into space flight and exploration as it seeks to build a programme that reflects its stature as a rising global power.

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