NASA slams China after remnants of its rocket fall near Maldives

World Sunday 09/May/2021 16:27 PM
NASA slams China after remnants of its rocket fall near Maldives

Washington: NASA, the US space agency, castigated China for failing to meet "responsible standards regarding its space debris" after remnants of a Chinese rocket plunged into the Indian Ocean.

"Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations," CNN quoted NASA Administrator Senator Bill Nelson's statement. "China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris," he added.

Remnants of China's biggest rocket landed in the Indian Ocean on Sunday.

Most of the huge Long March 5B rocket, however, burned up on reentering the atmosphere, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a post on WeChat, before it landed just west of the Maldives.

It was unclear if any debris had landed on the Maldives.

The US Space Command said the Long March 5B had reentered Earth over the Arabian Peninsula.

The rocket, which was about 108 feet tall and weighs nearly 40,000 pounds, had launched a piece of a new Chinese space station into orbit on April 29.

After its fuel was spent, the rocket had been left to hurtle through space uncontrolled until Earth's gravity dragged it back to the ground.

Generally, most rockets used to lift satellites and other objects into space conduct more controlled reentries that aim for the ocean, or they are left in so-called "graveyard" orbits that keep them in space for decades or centuries.

But the Long March rocket is designed in a way that "leaves these big stages in low orbit," said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University.