Most of the debris from the Chinese Long March 5B rocket disintegrated when it collided with the atmosphere and fell into the Indian Ocean. China’s Manned Space Engineering Office, CMSEO, reported in a statement that the debris re-entered Earth’s atmosphere at 2.24 GMT on May 9. It fell to 72.47 degrees east longitude and 2.65 degrees north latitude.
The coordinates are around the Maldives islands in the Indian Ocean, south of India. The agency points out that most of the remains disintegrated when they collided with the Earth’s atmosphere. The Space-Track website of the US Space Control Squadron confirmed the coordinates through a tweet.
The object’s weight of between 17 and 21 tons and a size of approximately 30 meters, and the speed of moving around 28,000 kilometers per hour led to the activation of several of the most important space surveillance services.
China asserted on Friday that it was improbable that the debris from the rocket would cause damage upon its return to Earth. It was most likely that it would disintegrate during its re-entry into the atmosphere.
Song Zhongping, the Chinese expert, told the Global Times that it is completely normal for rocket debris to return to Earth, a common practice carried out by many other countries, such as the United States.
Some experts considered the wreckage of Long March 5B as one of the giant pieces of debris to return to Earth.
NASA accuses China of not being responsible for its rocket out of control
The re-entry of the Chinese rocket to Earth has sparked a reaction from NASA. The space agency has called on China for responsibility and transparency, accusing the Asian giant of breaching the standards of responsibility with its space debris.
Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator, recalls that those countries that carry out space missions must minimize the risks to people and property from the re-entry of space objects. In turn, they should maximize transparency on these operations.
The criticisms come given that this family of rockets lacks an additional propulsion system that allows them to return to a specific area of the Earth. It already caused one of them to fall in the Atlantic Ocean and on the Ivory Coast in 2000. Nor is it the first time that a Chinese spacecraft has been in the center of interest of surveillance services worldwide. In April 2018, the Tiangong 1 orbital laboratory, which had been in disuse since 2016 and was roaming uncontrollably, re-entered the atmosphere to land over the South Pacific Ocean.