The world watched and waited as debris from China’s largest rocket returned to Earth, falling into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives. People in Oman and Jordan captured video footage as the Chinses rocket entered the atmosphere, burning and appearing as a bright light in the sky.
You can watch the footage here or later in this post. The debris was from the 23-ton core stage of a Long March 5B booster. The rocket launched the core module for China’s new space station from China’s Hainan island on April 28, according to Space.com. The rocket’s first stage reached orbit instead of separating and dropping into the ocean.
Here’s what you need to know:
Video Footage From Jordan & Oman Showed the Rocket Crashing to Earth as a Bright Light in the Sky
Video captured from witnesses in Jordan and Oman showed the remnants of China’s rocket falling through the sky, appearing like a bright light. The video was shared with the Associated Press and Reuters. Most of the debris burned up in the atmosphere, according to the Chinese state media and the China Manned Space Engineering Office.
The Chinese government did not release the exact location where the debris landed. Witnesses who captured the footage corroborated the account that the majority of the debris had burned up as it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
The coordinates released by the Chinese state media, referencing the China Manned Space Engineering Office account, indicated the point of impact was in the Indian Ocean, west of the Maldives, according to Reuters.
The rocket re-entered the atmosphere at 10:24 a.m. Sunday, May 10 Beijing time, (2:24 a.m. GMT and 10:24 p.m. Saturday), landing at the coordinates of longitude 72.47 degrees east and latitude 2.65 degrees north, according to Reuters.
NASA Administrator Senator Bill Nelson Released a Statement Calling for Responsible Spacefaring
Senator Bill Nelson, the NASA administrator, released a statement Saturday, May 9, 2021, in response to the debris from the Chinese Long March 5B rocket.
Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations.
It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.
It is critical that China and all spacefaring nations and commercial entities act responsibly and transparently in space to ensure the safety, stability, security, and long-term sustainability of outer space activities.
Meanwhile, one of China’s state-run newspapers, the Global Times, accused U.S. scientists and NASA of fearmongering and “jealousy,” writing “Their hype and smears were in vain.”
“These people are jealous of China’s rapid progress in space technology,” the newspaper said. “Some of (them) even try to use the noises they made to obstruct and interfere with China’s future intensive launches for the construction of its space station.”
U.S. Space Command also released a statement, saying the rocket debris “re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula.”
“It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water,” the statement continued. “USSPACECOM does not conduct direct notifications to individual governments. The exact location of the impact and the span of debris, both of which are unknown at this time, will not be released by U.S. Space Command.”