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Uncontrolled re-entry of Chinese rocket to Earth condemned by Nasa

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The International Space Station

The International Space Station

The International Space Station

Nasa has condemned the Chinese space programme after a booster rocket made an uncontrolled return to Earth on Saturday.

The US space agency accused Beijing of failing to share vital details about the trajectory of its Long March 5B rocket, which it launched with a module for its space station on July 24.

The vast majority of the rocket, which weighed more than 800 tons, burned up on re-entry, but a sizeable amount landed off the coast of the Philippine island of Palawan.

Beijing did not say whether any of the debris fell on land.

“The People’s Republic of China did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” Bill Nelson, Nasa administrator, tweeted on Saturday.

They are definitely not following current best practice

“All space-faring nations should follow established best practices and do their part to share this type of 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 to ensure the safety of people here on Earth,” he added.

This is not the first time the Chinese have faced criticism over space debris.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at Harvard University, told The Daily Telegraph: “Of the six biggest uncontrolled landings, three have been Chinese rockets. The Chinese have been behind in adopting norms that other countries follow.

“On one hand, we let space debris fall out of the sky when we really shouldn’t. On the other hand, we don’t let things this big – 21 tons (of debris) – re-enter.

“So, they are definitely not following current best practice.” (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

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Telegraph Media Group Limited [2022]


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