China’s uncontrolled Long March 5B rocket re-entered Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean, landing somewhere near the Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo.
US Space Command Rocket re-entry confirmed 12:45 p.m. ET, but it’s unclear where its debris fell. In a translated post on Weibo, China’s manned space agency said the rocket re-entered near the same area, and most of it burned up while it was on.
On July 24, China used a Long March 5B rocket to launch a lab module for its unfinished Tiangong space station. Unlike most rockets, the Long March 5B puts its first stage into orbit while delivering its payload. The piece, which is more than 100 feet long and weighs more than 22 tons, orbits Earth until it crashes to Earth, with no way of controlling its movement.
Uncertainty about where the rocket will land waving around the world last week, like projections The rocket had landed anywhere from Mexico to the southern tip of Africa. This is China’s third Long March 5B launch, its third out-of-control landing. In 2020, China used the Long March 5B to put Tiangong’s core module into space. Debris from the rocket landed in Ivory Coast, and although no casualties were reported, there was some structural damage. Last year, China launched its first lab module on the Long March 5B, fragments of which fell into the Indian Ocean.
It appears to have seen reentry from Kuching in Sarawak, Malaysia. The debris will land in northern Borneo, possibly Brunei. [corrected] https://t.co/sX6m1XMYoO
— Jonathan McDowell (@Planet4589) 30 July 2022
Malaysian users on Twitter captured the rocket’s apparent reentry with some believe it should be Meteor, Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, picks up debris The rocket may have ended up near Cebu, Bintulu, or Brunei – three cities located along Borneo’s northern coast – but he believes it is “unlikely” that it landed in a populated area.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson Responds to Uncontrolled Landing a statement on twitter, “The People’s Republic of China did not share specific trajectory information as their Long March 5B rocket fell back to Earth,” Nelson writes. “All astronaut countries 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, particularly on the Long March 5 For heavy-duty vehicles such as B, which carry a significant risk of loss of life and property.”
Unfortunately, this is not the ultimate out-of-control rocket ready to crash to Earth. China plans to launch its third and final module in Tiangong using the Long March 5B in October, and will once again use a rocket to put a telescope into space in 2023.