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  • Philip Osadebay - Tech Journalist

Chinese rocket re-entry: NASA’s concerns over space debris’ uncontrolled re-entry to Earth

Burnt-looking ring of metal dispersed in Kalimantan and Sarawak, Malaysia, from uncontrolled reentry of China’s space debris, NASA official makes strong comments.

There is a lot of public outcry on spacefaring nations to ensure they prioritise safety during their spacefaring activities.

The debris originated from a Long March 5B rocket planned to establish China’s new space station on Sunday, July 24. Debris from a Chinese rocket made an uncontrolled reentry into the earth, hitting the ocean bordering Malaysia. The burnt-looking ring of metal fell close to Kalimantan, while other scattered debris was found around Sarawak, Malaysia.

Although there is no report of injuries caused by the debris, space giant NASA has strongly condemned the incident and how Beijing handled it.

According to NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, in a statement, "The People’s Republic of China (PRC) did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” Nelson said. “All spacefaring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this information in advance to allow reliable predictions of potential debris impact risk, especially for heavy-lift vehicles, like the Long March 5B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property. Doing so is critical to the responsible use of space and ensuring people's safety here on Earth.”

Usually, the rocket uses its booster to power up through Earth’s atmosphere, which is enough to ensure the rocket reaches orbit and then the booster returns to earth in a controlled manner. The second stage continues into orbit in the case of china’s rocket reentry, the booster and second stage enter the orbit; then the booster drops back to earth in an uncontrolled manner. The fall can be devastating because it is impossible to predict the exact location, causing a threat to people or infrastructure.

However, this is the second time China is experiencing a similar incident where Rocket debris makes an uncontrolled reentry into Earth last year.

Beijing has faced harsh criticism from NASA for allowing such incidents to happen twice. Although China has tried to downplay the potential impact of such uncontrolled reentry. NASA and other spacefaring authorities hope such unpredictable spacefaring operations will not occur again.

On Sunday, Local media outlets reported that two families were evacuated from near the scene to avoid complications arising from radioactivity from the debris from the rocket.

Another resident informed local media that he was worried when he heard the loud noise and tremors shaking his house at about 12:40am.


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