The Chinese Space Agency said the 18-ton object, a large segment of the Chinese rocket, re-entered Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean today, May 9, 2021. Before that, the whole world was waiting with sinking to see where it would fall and whether there would be any consequences of this fall.
Officials in Beijing warned that part of the launched segment of the Chinese space station would return back to Earth. At the same time, this is not a reusable device, because of which the whole world had great fears. NASA and some experts said that China was acting irresponsibly, since the uncontrolled return to the atmosphere of such a large object is fraught with possible disasters and casualties.
“After monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 am on May 9, 2021, the debris of the last stage of the Long March 5B Yao-2 Changzheng 5 launch vehicle re-entered the atmosphere at the coordinates of a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.”
China Administration of Manned Space Technology
He added that most of the segment disintegrated and was destroyed during the descent. US Space Command said the rocket “re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 pm ET on May 8th.” At that time, it was not known whether the wreckage of land or water touched
The drop in the segment coincided with experts’ predictions that such debris would fall into the ocean, given that 70% of our planet is covered with water. Since it was an uncontrolled descent, public interest and speculation about where the debris would land has generated widespread public interest. American and European space authorities were among those who tracked the rocket and tried to predict its return.
What was the problem: when entering the atmosphere, objects generate a huge amount of heat and friction, which can lead to their fire and decay. But the larger ones, such as the Long March-5B, cannot be destroyed completely.
Their debris can land on the planet’s surface and cause damage and casualties, although this risk is small. Debris from another Chinese Long March missile hit a village in Côte d’Ivoire last year, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.
According to Harvard astronomer Jonathan McDowell, this incident is dangerous because the fourth largest object in history has undergone an uncontrolled re-entry into the atmosphere. The uncertainty and risks of such a return have prompted accusations of Beijing’s irresponsible behavior (and it turns out, not for the first time).
Last week, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggested China was negligent, and NASA executive Bill Nelson did the same after the rocket crashed.
“Space powers must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entering space objects and maximize transparency regarding these operations. It is clear that China is not meeting responsible standards for its space debris. ”
Bill Nelson, NASA
To avoid such scenarios, some experts have recommended upgrading the Long March-5B missile, which is not equipped for controlled launch. But it should be borne in mind that a return to the ocean is still more statistically likely. And in this regard, China has won its game, but such behavior in the eyes of the public and the leadership of space agencies and other countries is reckless.
Some suggest that the Chinese authorities downplayed the risk of the missile falling into habitable places due to what happened last year in the Ivory Coast. In doing so, Beijing has invested billions of dollars in space exploration to boost its global profile and technological power. The launch of the first module of her space station, which crashed on Sunday, marks a milestone in her ambitious plan to ensure a permanent human presence in space. All this time, the Chinese authorities have stated that the likelihood of harm to aviation activities or (people and settlements) on Earth is extremely small.