Rocket was used to launch a module headed to Chinese Space Station, which is slated to be fully operational in 2022.
This weekend, I joined thousands of others on social media tracking the out-of-control Chinese rocket on its way back to Earth this weekend.
As predicted, the rocket returned Saturday evening, landing in the Indian Ocean.
The remnants of a Chinese rocket re-entered the atmosphere and crashed into the Indian Ocean north of Maldives, according to the 18th Space Control Squadron.
According to the U.S. Space Force, the remnants re-entered the atmosphere at 10:15 p.m. ET over the Arabian Peninsula. It was unknown if the debris impacted land or water.
China’s space agency said the rocket re-entered the atmosphere at 10:24 p.m. ET, but also pinpointed the landing area just north of the Maldives. The Chinese space agency said most of the rocket was destroyed during re-entry.
In the wake of this incident, officials at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have blasted China for its failure to “meet responsible standards.”
“Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations,” said NASA Administrator Sen. Bill Nelson in a statement released on the space agency’s website Sunday.
“China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris,” he added.
And while it is fortunate that the rocket came down in an ocean north of the Maldives, the debris zone could have been much more problematic.
The Harvard-based astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell said the potential debris zone could have been as far north as New York, Madrid or Beijing, and as far south as southern Chile and Wellington, New Zealand.
Since large chunks of the Nasa space station Skylab fell from orbit in July 1979 and landed in Australia, most countries have sought to avoid such uncontrolled re-entries through their spacecraft design, McDowell said.
“It makes the Chinese rocket designers look lazy that they didn’t address this,” said McDowell.
China used the rocket to launch a module for the Chinese Space Station. The Chinese intend to conduct ten more launches that will deliver more pieces of the space station, cargo, and astronauts. They hope that by some time in late 2022, the station is open for business. So it might be a good idea to bookmark those tracking sites used this weekend!
Hopefully, the current administration is weighing the consequences of that station becoming fully operational. Mark Whittington, who frequently writes about space and politics for publications such as Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, offered cautionary analysis warnings of the consequences of blindly teaming up with the Chinese.
First, the Chinese have a record of stealing intellectual property, using cyber warfare and other industrial espionage techniques. China uses stolen technology to enhance its economic and military strength in its drive for world domination.
…The second reason that China should be held at arm’s length is that the country’s appalling human rights record — from the repression of the Uyghurs and political dissidents to the use of slave labor — makes it unworthy of being an American space partner.
The United States should use diplomacy to discourage any country from sending astronauts to the Chinese space station or cooperating with China’s space program in any way. China would like to use its space effort to enhance its standing in the world. American policy should be to isolate China’s space program in order to thwart that strategy.
Given all the problems the world has experienced due to global teamwork on Chinese biological research, smart leaders who care about their citizens would do well to heed Whittington’s advice.DONATE
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