China let its rocket debris crash and burn over the Indian Ocean, claims NASA Admin

China isn't responsibly managing its space program, claimed NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. The country allegedly let a large propulsion rocket descend uncontrollably and burn over the Indian Ocean.

A core stage of a Chinese Long March rocket burned up over the Indian Ocean on Saturday. It has drawn strong criticism from NASA. China should better manage its single-use rockets, which turn into space debris and tumble down to earth, implied NASA.

China launched a rocket to resupply its Tiangong space station on July 24. The mission performed flawlessly. However, China does not use a reusable primary booster rocket. In other words, China’s first-stage propulsion system cannot make a powered and controlled descent back to earth.

China allegedly left the 21-ton Long March 5B booster on its own. In other words, there was no controlled trajectory for re-entry, and it seems no formal intimation was given to NASA as well. The Long March rocket’s orbit may have degraded naturally as it was pulled in by Earth’s gravity. That uncontrolled descent took place around 12.45 pm EDT Saturday, over the Indian Ocean near Malaysia, indicated the US Space Command.

Some social media accounts shared videos of objects streaking across the sky. Although uncorroborated, the videos seem to indicate the burning remnants of a large rocket.

Shortly after 2 pm EDT Saturday, NASA administrator, Bill Nelson released a statement, blaming China and calling out its irresponsible behavior. NASA seems upset because China did not provide better and advanced information on the projected reentry trajectory of their rocket.

Small propulsion systems usually disintegrate completely in the upper atmosphere. However, as much as 40% of larger rocket boosters can survive the intense heat and pressure during re-entry. Such debris can be potentially dangerous.

This is the third time China has left its rockets to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere (in an uncontrolled manner). However, to date, there have been no recorded injuries or damage to property from such incidents. Still, such behavior is certainly reckless, and countries must exercise caution.

Via: The Independent

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